In Cambodia, around 80％ of the working population is engaged in the agriculture sector including fisheries and rice farming as the primary source of livelihood. Although Cambodia has established rice self-sufficiency since 1995, the productivity of rice farming is low compared with that of the neighboring countries.
In this context, the Government of Cambodia has been promoting improvement of productivity and diversification of crops in the agriculture sectors as part of the goal to focus food security for poverty reduction. Cambodia has rich water resources such as Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River, and the catch of the freshwater fish provides 75％ of animal protein uptake for the people of Cambodia. However, the supply of fisheries products to rural areas where 90％ of the poverty is happening is not always sufficient due to poor transportation infrastructure. Therefore, there is high expectation among the people in the rural areas for small-scale freshwater aquaculture using paddy fields, canals and pondsto contribute to crop diversification, and improved nutrition and income generation. The aquaculture development in rural areas, however, is hampered by insufficient supply of fingerlings among other reasons.
Given these, the Royal Government of Cambodia requested Japan for a technical cooperation aimed to improve and extend aquaculture to small-scale and poor farmers in four southern provinces, namely, Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampong Speu and Kampot provinces. In response, JICA sent the preliminary study team to confirm the needs for assistance and to discuss the details of the Project. The Record of Discussion was signed on December 23, 2004. This 5-year project, namely, the Aquaculture Improvement and Extension Project, started in February 28, 2005 and was completed in February 27, 2010.
The project was compliant with the needs of the target area and the target people, the national development policy, the fisheries development policy, and the Japanese aid policy. In addition, the Project also served as a means to solve the development issues of the fisheries sectors in Cambodia.
For the long term sustainability of the aquaculture development in the target region, however, the team recognized that the aquaculture network of the fingerling producers that was established in the later phase of the project needs further institutional strengthening. Particularly, there was a need for technical upgrading in fingerling production and financial stability through fingerling sales and marketing information exchange among the member seed producing farmers whose economic sustainability would hold the key for the continuous development of aquaculture in the target region after the termination of the project. For the rest of the project period, the project continued its work to accomplish the remaining activities related to the strengthening of the aquaculture network.