Improving the Marketing System for Maize and Soybeans in Cambodia

Robert Fitzgerald, John Spriggs, Yi Bunhak, Un Buntha, Steve Gniel, Nou Keosothea, Mam Many

    Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


    This project aimed to bring about positive socio-economic change in the Cambodian soybean and maize marketing systems through the use of community-based decision- making where the community of interest involved the various stakeholders of the marketing system (including farmers, colle ctors, traders and government officials). The basic research methodology throughout the project has been participatory action research (PAR). The project ran for nearly four years (July 2004 to April 2008), which included the original project and a one-year extension. The project began with preliminary mapping of the Cambodian maize and soybean marketing system. The result of this preliminary mapping was to divide the country into two parts: eastern Cambodia and western Cambodia because of significant differences in: (a) the type of crops grown (more soybeans in the east, more maize in the west); (b) the nature of the production-marketing systems (old established system in the east with less fertile land and a fragmented and antiquated marketing system while in the west the production-marketing system was relatively new and dynamic with highly fertile land centred around 5 large grain drying/storage operations); and (c) markets (eastern crops tended to move to Vietnam, while western crops tended to move to Thailand). The work in eastern Cambodia involved taking both a micro approach (working from the perspective of a single soybean farmers association) and a macro approach (working from the perspective of the marketing system as a whole). The micro approach led to the development of the Ta Ong Soybean Farmers Association (TSA) from an organization with no real function comprising 14 members to a successful micro-finance institution with 260 members that has to date made loans to over 1000 farmers. The macro approach led to the development of a fully-fledged feas ibility study for the development of an Agricultural Marketing Development Zone (AMDZ) in eastern Cambodia serviced by an Agricultural Marketing Development Centre (AMDC), an Agricultural Wholesale Market (AWM) and an inland port located on the Mekong River in Kampong Cham province. The feasibility analysis showed excellent potential for this development which has received strong backing from the Royal Governm ent of Cambodia and the Kampong Cham Chamber of Commerce. In western Cambodia, the main conclusion to emerge from preliminary mapping and a stakeholder workshop was that the region suffered from poor communications between different levels of the supply chain. We explored various options for the development of an improved marketing communication system and proposed to local stakeholders the development of an Electronic Marketing Communication System (EMCS) based on the use of SMS technology and mobile phones. We undertook a pilot project in which daily grain market information was collected by the Ministry of Commerce and entered onto a database that was accessible by mobile phone in Cambodia using SMS. The pilot project proved highly successful and its impact has stimulated further work in a follow-up ACIAR project (ASEM/2006/130) that will further develop the concept in both the marketing and production areas. The main conclusion from this study was that participatory action research (PAR) is a very viable approach to research that can ‘make a difference’. As such the main recommendation from this research is that ACIAR consider ways in which to better integrate the PAR methods into their research programs that directly deal with farm groups (e.g. participatory rural appraisal) or village communities. However, our work shows this also has broader applicability (e.g. in improving agricultural marketing systems).
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationCanberra
    Number of pages86
    ISBN (Print)978 1 921531 89 7
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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