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World Hope International (WHI)
During the first phase of this program, mushroom growing was introduced as a regular source of income for women and their families. World Hope International set up a social venture called Thera Metrey to purchase mushrooms from the producers at a fair price and transport them to the city for sale in the wholesale market and to restaurants, etc. Participants were able to repay loans, improve and expand their homes and farming operations, build latrines and avoid migrating to other parts of the country to find work.
The second phase of the program is focused on building the leadership of the mushroom producers and Thera Metrey to ensure the sustainability of mushrooms as an income source. The program is also working with farmers to develop innovations that reduce the overall costs of production and increase the reliabilty of yields.
Phase two also includes increased efforts to transform gender norms including changing social norms among men and boys and ensure communities and schools are safe for all children. The program is promoting a safe and gender equitable community as livelihoods empower women to invest in their families and communities.
Cambodia East Program Overview
Cambodia East Program Update
Innovative Equipment Design Benefits Growers
Steam-sterilizing the straw used as a growth medium for mushrooms is an essential part of the production process for the families in this program. A family’s steamer is a significant investment in equipment, water, fuel and labor, so finding a way to cut costs and time is a godsend. A more efficient steamer design is making life a lot easier for Mr. Nol Ouk and his wife.
Before planting the mushroom spores, growers heat water with firewood in order to produce enough steam inside the mushroom houses to kill harmful competing organisms in the substrate. “Version 1” of the steamer in common use was reportedly difficult for many women to handle and gobbled up a lot of fuel. But because there is a cost associated with switching to the newer design, Mr. Nol Ouk continued using his old steamer until it broke down.
When he and his wife tried out a borrowed “Version 2” steamer for the first time they found that everything was easier, from starting and maintaining the fire to adding water to the receptacle after a few hours of steaming. They soon invested in a Version 2 steamer of their own.
In Mr. Nol Ouk’s words, “I used to spend $40 on two carts of wood per steaming cycle with the old steamer. I never imagined there would come a day when I would need only one cart of wood, and even have a little left over for the next cycle. The new design saves about 65% in firewood and the process is much easier. My wife is happy with the change and she even helps me by adding wood to the fire now. She never did that with the old steamer because it would get too hot for her.”
Of the picture included with this story, Mr. Nol Ouk says, “This is me on my third day of harvest with the new steamer, when I totaled 78.5 lbs. On Day 1 I got 30; on Day 2, more than 130. Five good days in all. This new steamer is convenient to use and maintenance is cheaper than the old version. My family and I thank those who developed a better steamer so we can make a greater income by reducing our input costs.”
Cambodia East Program
Led by World Hope and Local Partner Thera Metrey