Meghan Mize Explores Safe Vegetable Value Chains In Cambodia
2018 RIFA Fellow Meghan Mize (third from left) is photographed giving a guest lecture at the Cambodian Center for Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE-SAIN)
Meghan Mize is a first-year master’s student in International Agricultural Development at UC Davis and a recipient of the 2018 RIFA Fellowship. This summer she will be traveling to Cambodia to collaborate with farmers and value chain actors on the design and adoption of vegetable quality standards with the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), a university with long standing ties to the University of California system. UC Davis and RUA collaborate on the Safe Vegetable Value Chain Project funded by USAID’s Horticulture Innovation Lab to help build and scale up innovations that strengthen farmers participation in safe vegetable markets. From June through September, Mize will be working alongside RUA university staff, faculty, and students to research ways Cambodian farmers can produce safer vegetables and find better access to markets.
Mize’s interest in international agriculture development was heavily influenced by her past academic and work experiences. During her undergraduate career at UC Berkeley, she studied development economics and environmental and food policy. To gain more hands-on experience, she become a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal. Since then, she has worked at several non-profit organizations on agricultural development projects in West Africa and Southeast Asia.
Since RIFA and the UC Davis International Agricultural Development program have a strong relationship, Mize knew about the RIFA program from other students who had completed programs in past project cycles.. She applied to the Safe Vegetable Value Chain Project in Cambodia because of the project’s participatory approach and its relation to her Master’s concentration in postharvest biology and technology.
The project will be centered around a newly constructed community-led collection center and packing house in the Battambang province of northwestern Cambodia. This center has the potential to be a key tool in developing new value chain linkages that can strengthen Cambodian farmers’ positions in the marketplace. The project will introduce farmers at the packinghouse to new quality standards that will help them access markets that pay higher prices for improved safety and higher quality produce. Ultimately, this project will help farmers in the Battambang Province improve their livelihoods by ensuring that their produce is safe to consume and competitive in the Cambodian marketplace.
Mize is grateful to have the opportunity learn from the RUA team and assist them fulfill their mission to empower the local community to become leaders in vegetable value chains. She is also enjoying learning more about Cambodian culture and exploring the city of Phnom Penh. . Mize also says that she is excited for the opportunity to complete her Master’s thesis for the International Agricultural Development program overseas with a project that aligns with her interests as a student and researcher.