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Enhanced Homestead Food Production for Improved Household Food Security and Nutrition in Cambodia: A Critical Analysis of the Fish on Farms Program

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Background: To rigorously assess the effectiveness of the Enhanced Homestead Food Production (EHFP) program, HKI has partnered with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to conduct a two-phase research and development. The aims of this research were to assess the impact of various EHFP models at improving food security, nutrition outcomes, livelihoods, and women’s empowerment in Cambodia (FOF Protocol, 2012). After the completion of the first phase, known as Fish on Farms (FOF), a Gap Analysis was commissioned to better understand key structural, socioeconomic, and behavioural differences between highly successful and highly unsuccessful women farmers that impacted the uptake and continuation of EHFP practices. Objectives: This study used the Gap Analysis from the FOF project as a case study to examine the tensions between locally focused agriculture development projects and the macroeconomic conditions in which they occur. The sustainability of this project in the long term in light of these tensions was then critically assessed using the Sustainable and Inclusive Agriculture Development (SIAD) analytical framework. Methods: A secondary data analysis of the Gap Analysis was conducted; a mixed methods study that utilized deviant case sampling to identify highly successful and unsuccessful farmers. Semi-structured interview data was analyzed using NVivo software. Line by line coding was used to examine textual data after which content analysis was undertaken to identify differences between positive and negative deviant farmers. Themes were identified by condensing and refining codes into categories in an iterative process. Quantitative data was analyzed using Microsoft Excel 2013 software and descriptive statistics were generated. Data was then organized into frequency tables and charts to better understand patterns and trends within the sample. Results: Several key factors were identified that contributed to respondents’ success or failure in increasing household (HH) food production and income including: access to primary inputs and irrigation; growing conditions and technical skills; HH demographic and socioeconomic indicators; EHFP harvest and utilization; and marketing and sale of products. Positive impacts of the FOF project were not uniformly distributed within the sample therefore, the intervention was moderately successful in improving access to micronutrient rich foods and improving HH incomes. Conclusions: While the FOF project contributed positively to HH food production andincomes for some, for others, this was not the case. Without continued financial support and safety nets, negative deviants were more likely to discontinue EHFP all together. In the context of contradictory development policies that prioritize neoliberal free market policies, the possibility for lasting impact is unlikely and threatens the positive gains made by the FOF project. Therefore, it is critical that donor agencies work with LMICs to revise national poverty reduction strategies and allow countries to exercise mercantilist practices where domestic agriculture policy is concerned.
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