Abt’s Buyer-led, Market Systems Approach to Cambodian Horticulture
- Cambodians wanted new approaches to accelerate horticulture sector growth.
- Harvest II built commercial partnerships and supported system-level change.
- Buyers and producers collaborated to improve practices and boost sales.
Millions of Cambodians have risen from poverty, yet many still live in vulnerable conditions. The government of Cambodia recognized that accelerating the growth of the horticulture sector would bring new opportunities, enabling farmers to benefit from higher-value crops. But horticulture in Cambodia was not well developed (half of the vegetables in the country were imported), and those trying to expand operations faced many constraints. USAID, through Feed the Future Cambodia, decided to take a multi-pronged approach, building capacity, market linkages, the policy environment, and the market system itself.
From 2017 to 2022, the Abt-led Harvest II project employed a combined buyer-led and market systems approach to strengthen the Cambodian horticulture sector. We began with the buyer as the key entry point to the market system. We brought the buyer together with other market actors – producers, input suppliers, financial institutions – to meet market demand and grow their businesses together over time. The approach also looked to strengthen key functions of the market system more broadly, seeking solutions to common problems such as those related to input supply or the need for tailored financial products.
Harvest II applied this approach in four subsectors: vegetables, mango, longan, and cashew. The demand-driven project worked with hundreds of private sector actors to help them expand their businesses, establish mutually beneficial relationships with their commercial partners, and contribute to system-level change. The project also helped market actors coordinate to improve productivity, enhance supply chain management, and meet export requirements. By the end of the five-year project, Harvest II partners had generated $75 million in farm and firm-level sales, invested $28 million in new investment, and created the equivalent of 2,500 full-time jobs.
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