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In Cambodia, 80% of the population depends on farming for their income. Typically farmers grow only rice, producing a single crop each year. Poor soil quality is a major constraint on productivity, along with erratic rains and the increasingly frequent occurrence of flooding and drought. Families generally earn very low incomes from rice due to low productivity and a lack of access to markets. The result has been extensive migration from rural areas by men and women — and particularly by youth — seeking jobs as laborers and garment factory workers. This leaves rural areas with low labor supplies, which is predicted to have a major impact on the future of food security in Cambodia, on the local economy, and on social structures. World Renew and five local Cambodian partner organizations are addressing these issues by showing rural communities that farming can be a viable source of income. Building on six years of programming and established Farmer Field Schools, this program focuses on an innovative extension model, and is establishing 65 multi-purpose model farms to help support learning for an additional 600 farmers. The program’s goal is improved food security and income for rural farming families. This will be accomplished by: increasing the number of farmers practicing irrigation management, increasing the number of farmers practicing soil enhancement techniques, increasing the diversity of farm production, and improving access to markets.
Life-Changing Ag Training
When Thoeun decided to take advantage of an opportunity to receive training on environmentally-friendly agriculture and raising animals organized by the Cambodia South program, she had no idea how much her life would change for the better. She was an ordinary Cambodian farmer who relied on growing rice to feed her family while her husband migrated to the city to work in the construction sector. Like many other families, theirs didn’t earn enough to support themselves. Her children did not go to school regularly because they were busy looking for crabs and snails in the fields to supplement their limited diet.
Determined to learn what she could, she took the instruction seriously. She immediately began growing vegetables, using natural fertilizers, and raising a few chickens. She worked so hard that she was selected to become a “multi-purpose farmer.” This meant receiving extra support and training so she could test new crops, varieties, and production-management techniques, then share what she learned with her neighbors. She put into practice whatever she learned, expanded her vegetable plot, and increased the number of chickens she raised. Now she not only produces enough to meet her family’s needs, but has extra to sell.
Because of her success, her husband was able to quit his job in the city and now helps her with the farm work. Her children are going to school regularly and no longer need to forage for food. Thoeun shows a high level of commitment to working hard on her farm and to teaching others in her community so that they, too, can not only grow enough to become food secure, but to thrive.
Caption: Thoeun on her multi-purpose farm plot
Cambodia South Program
Led by World Renew