Leveraging Shared Interests to Advance Sustainable Food Safety Systems in Cambodia

Karen LeGrand, Buntong Borarin, Chuong Thort, Gerald David Miller, Kong Thong, Cary Trexler, Glenn M Young

Abstract


In many Low-Medium Income Countries (LMIC), smallholder farmer access to consumer-driven markets is limited by lack of knowledge, capital, appropriate technology and technical training. While technical innovations and new techniques can improve the quality, quantity and safety of agricultural products for the market, adoption of new technologies and practices by smallholder farmers is often hindered by additional social and logistical constraints. To address the wide range of problems experienced by smallholder farmers seeking a higher standard of living, both natural science and social science solutions are required. This pilot study describes a mechanism for overcoming multiple constraints smallholder farmers face when attempting to change their agricultural practices. Community-driven savings programs were organized around the shared interests of individuals involved in various aspects of the agricultural supply chain in six villages in Cambodia. These Shared Interest Savings Groups (SISGs) were initially designed to help members learn to (a) amass lump sums of capital for investments in agriculture, and once operational also served as an organizing platform to (b) collectively identify problems and test solutions, and (c) provide funding for early scaling of appropriate agricultural technologies. This case study proposes an innovative model for effectively mitigating multiple constraints that typically hinder LMIC agricultural advancements. The participatory, social learning SISG model is therefore a promising soft technology that warrants further testing at a larger scale to validate these findings.

Keywords: participatory research; social learning; shared interest savings group; smallholder farmers; value chain; technology adaptation

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.

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