FAO in Cambodia

Promoting gender equality and supporting female and male farmers in Cambodia to do farming as business

Community meetings in Ponley and Taphou commune of Banteay Meanchey to recruit the WE-FBS group.

On 7 July 2021, the Gender and Children Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has signed a Letter of Agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation (FAO) in Cambodia, to implement the Women’s Empowerment Farmer Business School (WE-FBS) approach in the provinces of Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA).

The WE-FBS involves both men and women, and its unique methodology creates a safe space for unpacking gender norms in order to address the deep-rooted socio-cultural causes of gender inequalities in farming. It also strengthens farmers’ entrepreneurial skills and develops their capacity to improve their farm business activities, engage in lucrative value chains and pursue market opportunities. In doing so, the WE-FBS approach unleashes rural women’s potential to become successful business actors.

After receiving the Training of Trainers from FAO on 20-24 September 2021, the Master Trainers and the coordination team have conducted a field mission from 20-30 October 2021 to present the approach to the communities and establish 15 new WE-FBS groups. These represent an addition to the 42 already existing farmers’ groups established under the Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension (ASPIRE) and the FAO Covid-19 Recovery project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

With the support of the provincial Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (PDAFF), the WE-FBS Master Trainers have successfully mobilized 158 farmers (of which 70 are women) from the Khnar Por commune of Sotr Nikhom district, Svay Leu and Khnong Phnom communes of Svay Leu district and Lvea Kraing commune of Varin district in Siem Reap province. As a result, in Siem Reap 143 farmers (72 women) have decided to assemble and form seven WE-FBS groups, defining their management structure and internal regulations.

Together with FAO, the WE-FBS Master Trainers team has also successfully mobilized 293 farmers (213 women) from Ponley commune of Phnom Srok district and Taphou commune of Svay Chek district in Banteay Meanchey province. As in Siem Reap, 198 farmers (137 women) in Banteay Manchey have organized themselves into eight WE-FBS groups.

Over the following months, the members of the WE-FBS groups will develop skills to challenge harmful socio-cultural norms that generate gender inequalities, and will strengthen their agency to do farming as a business, network, develop a vision plan, and define concrete steps for achieving it.

This action is part of the global gender sub-programme funded through the FAO Flexible Multi-partner Mechanism (FMM). The sub-programme combines gender transformative approaches such as the WE-FBS and adapts them to the local context, while strengthening the capacities of research and development professionals to mainstream gender in policies and programmes for agriculture, rural development and poverty reduction.