This is a four-year USAID project supported by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL). The University of Tennessee is working in partnership with Penn State University.
An increase in population and consumption will bring about a greater demand for food, fiber, and energy over the next few decades. This increase in demand causes increasing pressure on agricultural production often accompanied by an increasingly degraded environment. To overcome this problem, the concept of “sustainable intensification” (SI) was introduced. The concept recognizes the need to simultaneously increase agricultural productivity and further reduce negative environmental impacts.
UTIA is currently partnering with Penn State University to work on a USAID funded SI project. This project, titled “Women in Agriculture Network (WAgN) Cambodia: Gender and Ecologically Sensitive Agriculture”, comes under the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) headquartered at Kansas State University.
The USAID WAgN Cambodia project explores and promotes conservation agriculture techniques, including the integration of cover crops and other soil improvement techniques in the predominately rice-based farming system of Cambodia. Connecting to the idea of ‘sustainable intensification,’ the project also examines how underutilized land and underutilized species can be best brought into sustainable production, as to prevent the cutting of existing forests to expand agricultural land. For example, one underutilized specie, Acacia pennata (also known as climbing wattle), is a native tree being promoted at the household level for its soil improvement contributions and household nutrition benefits. In addition to technical research aspects, the project also includes social science research. Researchers conduct focus groups and interviews with producers, traders, and co-ops to understand value chain networks from seed to product sale. Much of the project involves vegetable crops and since vegetables are primarily grown by women in Cambodia, the project attentively integrates gender components (hence the project title) by understanding how these various technologies impact their time and well-being.
The project will pursue three major objectives:
- To identify and promote adoption of gender-sensitive SI technologies and practices in rice and horticulture value chains targeted to improve ecological resilience as well as the nutritional status and income for poor households.
- To identify and foster enabling conditions and social networks for women to fully participate in the local, regional and international value chains for horticultural and rice-based foods produced via SI.
- To build capacity in local agricultural institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and international universities and research institutes, to broaden the span of innovations in gender and ecologically sensitive SI.
For more information, please visit the Kansas State SIIL page.