Market Assessment

Fruit and Vegetable Traders in Cambodia: A Baseline Study for CAMIP, 2007

    The Cambodia-Canada Market Information Project (CAMIP) is operating within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries (MAFF). It has two main components:

    (i) to improve the current Market Information Service as operated by the Agriculture Marketing Office (AMO) within MAFF; and
    (ii) to provide better market opportunities to all value chain participants, using improved market information.

    To ensure the project is successful, CAMIP needs to have good knowledge of traders, so it can actively engage them in the project both as sources of market information and as actors in market development. To this extent, CAMIP commissioned IRL to carry out a baseline study of vegetable and fruit traders at 6 designated markets in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampot. This report is the culmination of that study. Results from this baseline will help CAMIP identify how to engage with traders so that they will actively engage with the project in equitable and a sustainable manner.

    Methods for info gathering
    The baseline study involved 135 interviews with fruit and vegetable traders and collectors in 6 designated markets in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampot. The interviews covered about 25 questions, which were developed by CAMIP and translated and piloted by IRL (see Annex 1 for a copy of the questionnaire). Interviews were administered by AMO staff, with supervision by IRL. To reduce potential bias resulting from the use of Government officials to carry out the survey, extra care was taken to ensure that AMO staff were introduced as representatives of CAMIP or IRL (rather than as AMO officials). In addition, AMO staff only carried out interviews in markets where they normally do not work.

    At each market, interviewers aimed to interview 5 collectors and either 15 or 20 traders (15 traders in Chbar Ampov and Koki, and 20 traders in the remaining markets), half of which are wholesalers and half retailers. Wholesalers, which are less common than retailers, are more important in terms of the project's work, so they were intentionally over-sampled for this study. Interviewers also aimed to equally split interviews between fruit and vegetable traders, as traders tend to trade in either fruit or vegetables (rarely both). The exception was at Korki and Takhmao markets, where vegetable trading is more important. At these markets, only vegetable traders were interviewed.

    Following administration of the questionnaire, those traders who were engaged in the one-on-one interviews and seemed interested in providing additional information were invited to join a Focus Group Discussion (FGD). One FGD was held for each market. To encourage traders' participation, FGDs were held at locations and at times convenient to the traders. Each FGD was moderated by IRL staff, with assistance from AMO staff. Guidelines for the FGDs were developed by CAMIP and translated by IRL (see Annex 2). A summary report of all of the FGDs was prepared by IRL and is attached (see Annex 3).

    Summary of results
    135 retailers, wholesalers and collected from 6 designated markets in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampong Cham and Kampot were interviewed for the study. The respondents range in age from 15 to 65; 86% are female; and the majority have only completed some primary or secondary school.

    Using information on housing and personal property as a proxy for income, it can be concluded that very few of the traders interviewed come from very poor households. Only 2% live in households with thatch roofs, and 8% live in households with fibro roofs (the next cheapest source of roofing material). Additionally, only 6% reported that they owned no source of transportation, a and only 4% did not have a TV, radio or phone.

    The results of the survey and Focus Group Discussions point to several key issues that traders face and that CAMIP may be able to assist with.

    Although almost all traders reported that they rely on collectors and other traders for market information, the survey results show that there is a general lack of networking and information-sharing between traders. Only 35% of traders reported that they share information about demand to suppliers. Also, almost all traders only operate in one market, suggesting that, in part, they to not have the networks and contacts in other markets to expand their operations (high costs of transportation could be another determining factor limiting traders' opportunities to expand to other markets and is discussed below). This lack of networking is also confirmed by traders' request for more information on domestic and export marketing, which would most easily be gained through informal and formal networks.

    Traders are concerned about the quality of produce and requested information to help improve the quality of produce coming from local farmers. With high quality products, traders can demand higher prices, they lose less produce to spoilage, and they gain customer confidence. Nevertheless, none of the traders reported that they check for certifications of quality on the produce they buy, and only 64% of grade their produce.

    One of the main constraints to trading is the high cost of transport, which includes many formal and informal transportation fees and is affected by high gasoline prices and charges for parking in the market. As mentioned above, high transport fees are also a likely barrier for expanding business and entering new markets.

    Traders also felt that poor market conditions affect their businesses, and they are concerned about increased competition from small mobile vendors and informal traders operating small businesses outside of the market.