In the Cambodian rural areas is great poverty and are few development perspectives. This leads to the migration of many young people to the cities looking for a better future. Upon arrival in the city these young people often end up in the margin, making them extra vulnerable to contact with criminality and drugs.
The growing migration to the cities is consistent with the high drop-out rates in education. This is due to the low quality and relevance of education services on the one hand and the lack of means to send youth to school on the other hand. The uncertain outlook for youth in the countryside enhances the rural exodus.
The National Strategic Development Plan of Cambodia recognises the increase of the number of young people that are migrating from rural areas towards the cities, as a problem. Also during the consultations of the management of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF), this migration of youth has been recognised as a growing and priority problem. By, amongst other things, strengthening the services for agricultural extension the Cambodian government wants to decrease this migration to the cities.
In several policy documents the MAFF underlines the importance of improving extension services to farmers. The aim of these extension services is to improve the living conditions of the farming families by providing technical advice and by supporting them in processes aimed at developing and applying better agricultural techniques.
The agricultural programme ImAgE wishes to respond to the need of a strengthened system of agricultural extension. This will be especially targeted at the district level, where the extension workers pass on the technical training to the farmers. Furthermore the programme wants to strengthen the leadership and management skills of the Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) and District Offices of Agriculture (DOA). ImAgE also wants to give the extension workers more access to quality materials that can support them in their day to day practice.
For the ImAgE programme the MAFF has, as a strategic partner, signed an agreement (2008-2013) with the VVOB. Within the MAFF the Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) is the key stakeholder in the intervention of the VVOB. The operational partners of the ImAgE programme are the Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) and seven of the eleven District Offices of Agriculture (DOA) in the province Kandal. Primarily the extension workers at the district level are the direct target group in the process of capacity development. Their methodological and technological skills need to be strengthened.
ImAgE operates from the Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) in the province Kandal. In the pilot phase it cooperates with the three districts (Kandal Steung, Kien Svay and Ponhea Lueu) and with a total of 23 extension workers (fifteen district and eight provincial extension workers).
The general target of the ImAgE programme is that households in the rural areas of the province Kandal can improve their living and reduce their vulnerability through improved and environmentally friendly agricultural practices. The specific target of this programme is that farmers (with special attention to the female and young farmers) in the province Kandal adopt improved and environmentally friendly agricultural practices and exchange information about these practices.
The programme wants to achieve the following results:
- Result 1: Seven District Offices of Agriculture (DOA) in the province Kandal will provide more efficient and effective services to farmers with an emphasis on reaching female and young farmers as well as promoting environmentally friendly practices.
- Result 2: The Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA) in the province Kandal provides improved support and guidance to the staff of the DOAs.
- Result 3: The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) of the MAFF provides improved quality and access of extension materials to the PDAs and DOAs in Cambodia.
At the level of Result 1 VVOB supports the development of the DOA's capacity for implementing a gender mainstreaming strategy at district and village level. Besides, VVOB supports the DOA in developing its capacity and strategies to reach young farmers through Farmer Groups (FGs), Village Extension Workers (VEWs) and Teacher Training Centres (TTCs). VVOB also supports the development of methodological and technological skills of District Extension Workers (DEWs) as well as extension materials with an emphasis on promoting environmentally friendly practices. Furthermore, VVOB supports the development of management and planning skills of the DOA chiefs (with a special focus on accessing funds via District Integration Workshops and Commune Investment Plans).
VVOB also supports - at the level of Result 2 - the PDA staff (Extension and Subject Matter Specialists) in developing its capacity to provide professional guidance to DOA staff and in strengthening stakeholder linkages and information exchange.
At the level of Result 3 VVOB supports the DAE in developing a procedure for collection and quality assurance of extension. VVOB also helps the DAE in the development and management of an online exchange portal for these extension materials.