Cambodian Sustainable Intensification Farmer-to-Farmer Program – Success Story: Promoting Youth Engagement in Agriculture through Vegetable Grafting

Cambodian Sustainable Intensification Farmer-to-Farmer Program – Success Story: Promoting Youth Engagement in Agriculture through Vegetable Grafting

In November 2020, the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program, in partnership with the National University of Battambang (NUBB),
delivered training on tomato grafting to the Kampingpouy Agricultural Cooperative based in Banan district, Battambang
province. Two of the training participants are currently studying horticultural at NUBB, Si Net and Sokun Leakena. They explained:

“There are two main reasons that drew our attention to this training. First, we are familiar with grafting fruit trees, but not vegetables. This is an exciting new technique that enables us to grow tomatoes during the rainy season. Second, this technique complements our horticulture studies, providing another skill for our professional practice.”

Growing up in farming families on the outskirts of Battambang, Net and Leakena (both 21 years old), are keenly aware of the
difficulties that farmers face cultivating tomatoes during the rainy season. There is always lots of demand for tomatoes during the wet season, so they fetch a higher price; however, this is because it is so difficult to produce tomatoes under monsoon conditions. The rain and humidity cause tomatoes to suffer from disease.

“Therefore, it is good that F2F is providing such important training to vegetable farmers to equip them with the tools to overcome these challenges and improve their agricultural productivity during the rainy season. This allows them to sell tomatoes during peak demand and bring home more money,” Net said.

He went on to explain that this training could provide employment opportunities for youth by grafting and selling vegetable plants. In July 2021, Net and Leakena worked for the Scaling Suitable Sustainable technologies (S3-Cambodia) project to apply what they learned in the F2F tomato grafting training. Working with other horticultural students, they grafted more than a thousand tomato plants to market to farmers and plant nurseries. They demonstrated excellent grafting technique, with nearly all of their grafted plants surviving.

“In the future, I am ager to learn other agricultural techniques because I think it is very useful for younger generations to utilize agricultural knowledge to advance food security and livelihoods in Cambodia”, said Leakena

Leakena’s mother manages a plant nursery. She is eager to utilize this new technique to improve the family business by selling grafted tomatoes and peppers. The two youths plan to share this knowledge with other agricultural communities and their peers at the university. They also plan to plant their own grafted vegetables on their family farmland during the next rainy season. The F2F project has recruited Sokun to support our F2F national volunteer, Ngang Channaty , to provide future grafting trainings to new communities. This should help her strengthen her ability to graft vegetables. Leakena and Net will both have opportunities to take on leadership roles to teach others how to use these techniques and improve their agricultural production and nutrition.