The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s policy is that all of Australia’s development programs deliver the best value for money and generate sustainable outcomes.
All CAVAC’s interventions are intended to continue well beyond the life of the program – sustainability is a precondition for all our interventions. During the planning stage, CAVAC collects credible evidence that the improved access to goods and services will continue to be offered after CAVAC’s involvement. For our irrigation infrastructure, this means that local farmers will be able to manage and maintain the schemes themselves.
The Market Development Approach, or Making Markets Work for the Poor, initiates systemic changes in supply chains and generates greater access to the markets that provide goods and services to farmers.
CAVAC’s direct support to its agribusiness partners focusses on the distribution of information about improved farming practices. The Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE), in its 2017 review of CAVAC, interviewed several farmers’ groups who confirmed that the advisory support they received continued to be available. The ODE review also found CAVAC’s partner companies had clearly retained an awareness of the benefits of training in product use as part of their business model. Most were continuing to do this through a combination of retailer engagement and direct farmer outreach.
CAVAC has helped change the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries’ (MAFF’s) approach from being a service provider to being facilitator and regulator; this was made explicit in the 2014 MAFF Strategy which noted the private sector’s role in extension services and referred directly to CAVAC.
Early engagement with local farmers and regular consultation during the design phase is an essential part of the way CAVAC generates ownership of the irrigation schemes, and this sense of ownership is vital if farmers are to operate and maintain the schemes over the long term. CAVAC’s concrete lined canals have higher up-front costs, but a much longer life span than traditional canals – up to 12 or 15 years if properly maintained.
For our schemes to be sustainable they need an adequate supply of water that enables farmers to increase their yields, and sufficient fee recovery by the local Farmer Water User Communities so that they have adequate funds for maintenance. The technical components of each scheme are designed to be simple to operate and CAVAC invests in building skills in the local communities so that they can operate and maintain the schemes themselves.
CAVAC’s innovative schemes complete with pump houses are now being adopted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the World Bank’s irrigation program.
CAVAC has assisted the RGC in the formulation of the Rice Seed Policy and is also assisting the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to implement the policy by helping it to establish a National Seed Council, a Seed Management Unit and a Variety Release Committee. The establishment of these three institutions will lead to sustainable improvements in the Cambodia rice seed sector and encourage foreign investment.
CAVAC facilitated the establishment of a forum for the rice seed sector, bringing together the public and private sector to exchange ideas and prioritise research needs. The interest shown by both the public and private sector for such a dialogue has begun to create a sustainable, institutionalised platform.