20.03.2020 - Clint Smythe was on assignment with VSA in Cambodia as a business development adviser building marketing capacity to support North Cambodian melon farmers. This story highlights the impact he made while on his VSA assignment. VSA has so appreciated his work.

“Five years ago my wife and I sold our share of a vegetable business to prepare to do something like VSA. It was a life transition for us. Our kids had moved on. We could keep on working for ourselves or use the skills we had to invest back into other people’s lives.”

Business development advisor and volunteer from New Zealand Clint Smythe has turbo-charged collaborative marketing by North Cambodian melon farmers.

A new payments system has grown farmer confidence in their association. Thirty tonnes of the fruit are now sold each month to Phnom Penh supermarkets – a 300% increase since April 2018.

“It has been very rewarding and I think in our time here we’ve made a real difference. More than we expected,” says Clint.

“Coming from a farming background, my wife and I did a lot of this stuff ourselves. Being here has created lots of opportunities to build up other people’s lives by using your skills.”

The iDE project has helped many melon farmers increase income to around US$10,000 per year.

In early 2018 the association’s lack of working capital meant it couldn’t pay farmers till payment came through from supermarkets. Farmers were used to being paid on the day their produce was collected to go to local markets.

This caused problems including a lack of confidence in collective marketing. Clint worked with a group of angel investors in New Zealand to provide an interest-free loan so the association could introduce a new payment scheme.

Staggered payments to farmers – 20% on delivery and the balance 21 days later – handed some cash quickly to farmers and gave the association a sustainable revolving fund.

Melon production trebled from 10 tonne per month and the supermarket customer base grew too. 

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Clint Smythe demonstrates sowing carrot seed