Cambodia’s poultry industry has seen significant development over recent years. Increasing attention on the important role of smallholder farmers within the industry is shining a light on the potential of micro-agribusinesses as key actors in boosting the country’s poultry production and building sustainable farm systems. Dana Asia is an Australia-registered charity working in Cambodia to create sustainable solutions for the challenges faced by the country’s most impoverished communities. Dana Asia works with in-country partners to implement locally-relevant projects with the primary focus of achieving sustainable impact at scale, aligned with three core values: social empowerment, economic viability and environmental sustainability.

Almost 80% of Cambodia’s population live in rural areas. For impoverished rural communities, rearing and selling chickens is a common livelihood, but achieving a reliable income is difficult. Local Khmer poultry breeds are genetically weak and the traditional free-ranging style makes birds vulnerable to disease. In many cases, farmers lose most of their flock to disease before they’re fully grown, making it near impossible to earn a sustainable income from small-scale chicken rearing.

In 2014, Dana Asia sought to find solutions to local challenges by establishing KJC Farm, a social business poultry farm in Siem Reap province. Equipped with international-standard biosecure facilities, KJC provides hands-on training and employment for local villagers from impoverished backgrounds, working in collaboration with international poultry rearing experts whom advise on chicken rearing techniques, disease management and biosecurity. The Farm also provides training for Dana Asia’s Outgrower project, which empowers microentrepreneurs to launch their own poultry small businesses from home. The first Outgrower farm was setup in December 2018 and a total of 11 Outgrower farms have been established in two communities in Siem Reap province, with a total of 20 planned for this year.

To scale impact at a community level, a large volume of disease-free chicks must be readily available. Since November 2018, Dana Asia has been developing a new Breeder Farm facility and ]in August 2021, the final building works were completed with the farm close to operational. Built using local materials and local labour, the new farm is equipped with full water and electricity supplies, a backup generator, offices, kitchen and lunchroom, and accommodation for farm workers. A 12m x 23m rearing shed, complete with feeder lines and water system, has been designed with Cambodia’s hot climate in mind to help reduce temperatures in the shed.

The site has a biosecure working farm area only accessible to workers and visitors through a shower block, with a full vehicle washing station to disinfect all vehicles coming in and out. These biosecurity protocols set the farm apart from others of its kind in the area.

The Breeder Farm is key to the viability and sustainability of Dana Asia’s social business activities in Cambodia. When fully operational, the farm will provide comprehensive training and employment for local farmers and produce five-day-old chicks to supply more than 200 community-based farmers from impoverished backgrounds.

Building local capacity and skills in advanced poultry rearing techniques will contribute to the wider knowledge base to bring important system-wide changes to Cambodia’s poultry industry for long-term impact.