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Using Digital Tools to Address COVID-19’s Impact on Cambodia’s Horticulture
Harvest II partners innovate in face of new needs, opportunities
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted Cambodia’s horticulture sector, bringing about intermittent border closures, transportation challenges, shortages of farm labor, unprecedented price fluctuations, and a crash in demand normally fueled by tourism.
In response to these disruptions, USAID’s Abt-led Harvest II conducted a rapid assessment of key stakeholders’ challenges and is now working with project partners to adapt. This often involves using digital technology, for example:
Utilizing online platforms to deliver various types of training,
Partnering with eCommerce platforms to market and distribute products,
Expanding and strengthening markets virtually.
Some key themes emerged: the need to diversify products and markets to mitigate risk, as well as the need to increase supply chain collaboration and value addition.
Following COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, we hired consultants to continue delivering targeted training to market actors utilizing various online platforms such as Facebook Live and WebEx. The platforms enabled live-streaming and live question-and-answer sessions with experts on topics such as production techniques, product development, and exports. The virtual programs used to facilitate learning and continued professional development throughout the pandemic included: The Export Competitiveness Program to help Cambodian cashew processors export their products to international markets, The Product Development Program to foster competitiveness and help participants reach high-value markets, and The Food Safety Standards Program, which promoted awareness and the adoption of international export market standards.
Harvest II hosted an introductory meeting between Navita and Aliments to discuss collaboration opportunities.
To address Cambodian consumers’ growing concerns about COVID-19, Abt worked with market actors in the horticulture sector to devise and adopt creative marketing and communication strategies to facilitate access to fresh produce utilizing social media. Harvest II partners such as AgriOn, Natural Agriculture Village (NAV), and Aliments used their social media pages, including Facebook and Telegram, to promote and sell their products online and to establish procedures to cater to online demand. Customers are now able to access fresh produce easily, ordering directly from the businesses via Facebook Messenger, Telegram, and other applications.
As mandated quarantines, city-wide lockdowns, and “red zones” were implemented to mitigate transmission, Harvest II connected project partners with online delivery service providers. Addressing the growing need for fresh produce in the local community as well as to ensure customer safety, Harvest II partners and safe fruit and vegetable suppliers AgriOn, NAV, Azaylla, Yamato Green, Sna Dai Me, Aliments, and more partnered with online delivery services such as Nham24, Food Panda, and WowNow. These suppliers are now delivering their products directly to end consumers.
The pandemic illustrated to Cambodia’s market actors the importance of diversifying their products and markets to reduce the impact of unpredictable and volatile markets. To assist Harvest II partners, the project diligently works with consultants and domestic and international partners and businesses to identify and encourage product and market diversification opportunities. Harvest II recently hosted an online Zoom meeting for processing companies CSL Enterprise, New Idea Enterprise, KCCV Plantation, NAVITA, Veha Juice, and Leang Leng Enterprise to meet with the trading company Generation One. Harvest II and the trading company are working with each of the processing companies to diversify their markets, and recently shipped product samples to international markets including Australia, England, Indonesia, and France.
Utilizing digital tools, Abt and our partners continue to adapt to the unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic and find new ways to generate growth.
Food Security & Agriculture in Australia & Asia Pacific