Cambodians eat too much rice. GIZ is joining with farmers to form multi-purpose farms, as well as advising health care centers on nutritional questions.

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On a model farm in Cambodia, this farmer is learning how to grow much more than just rice. All photos: (c) GIZ

Project sponsor

German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Target group

15,000 women of reproductive age (between 15 and 49 years) and 3,000 infants between 6 and 23 months


March 2015 - March 2023


8.3 million euros

Cambodia could actually supply itself with enough food, and is even exporting rice. Nevertheless, over 30 percent of children are chronically undernourished and over 60 percent of women suffer from anemia.

The reasons for this severe undernourishment and malnutrition vary. One of the main problems is that people eat almost exclusively rice, preferring to sell expensive fruits and vegetables rather than eating them themselves. In the long term, nutritional deficiencies such as these result in mental and physical ailments. Especially in the first years of a child's life, a diet which lacks the necessary vitamins and other nutrients will result in lifelong impairments. At the same time, most Cambodian health care centers are not adequately equipped to give people good advice. However, these services are of vital importance, particularly for those who are weakened by hunger and malnutrition.


Health and independence

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Pregnant woman in a health center in Kampot during a consultation.

The MUSEFO project (Multisectoral Food and Nutritional Security) began its activities in Cambodia in 2015. Two districts with a particularly precarious nutritional situation were selected: Kampong Thom and Kampot. Growing alternative crops would not only improve the nutritional situation, but would also provide economic independence from the volatile world-market rice prices. The MUSEFO project therefore focuses on sustainable agriculture and improving the health care system in rural areas.


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GIZ employees direct farmers to multi-purpose farms.

One of MUSEFO’s approaches involves "multi-purpose farms," which consist of various areas, such as fish ponds, fruit trees and vegetable gardens for the farmers' own consumption and for sale on the market. Multi-purpose farms also produce rice and other basic foods which are necessary to supply calories. MUSEFO has thus far selected 200 farmers and trained them to become multi-purpose farmers. These people serve as a "model farmers" and share their knowledge with neighbors and friends. The project is already beginning to show results: in 2016, model farmers harvested 300 tons of tomatoes and planted 6000 Moringa trees and 200,000 eggplants.


Unfortunately, people may become malnourished even with a healthy and balanced diet, if their body is weakened by illness and is unable to absorb the necessary nutrients. This may quickly develop into a life-threatening situation, particularly for children. For this reason, MUSEFO provides assistance to local health care centers, where nurses and midwives are trained in nutritional questions concerning mothers and small children in particular. Ms. Chum, one of the MUSEFO model farmers, had her first child recently. Thanks to routine prenatal and post-natal care in a health care center, she had her child without complications and can now once again devote all her energies to her multi-purpose farm.

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

GIZ is a globally active provider of international cooperation for sustainable development. It has more than 50 years of experience in a wide range of fields.

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