High economic growth continues in Cambodia. Meanwhile the economic gap is widening between people’s lives in urban and rural areas. Cambodia is the country where the reduction rate of forests was the most accelerated in the world between 2001 and 2014. Large-scale development of farmlands is under way, which causes many land problems throughout the country. Farmers suffer from land grabbing by companies or lose their land because of debts. They go to cities and get unstable jobs with low salaries. In order to resolve such poverty, it is necessary to realize selfreliance in rural areas for themselves.
Supporting livelihoods in farming communities (Siem Reap Province)
There has been a large-scale agriculture development in JVC’s working areas. Meanwhile, increased consumption of natural resources due to population growth has led to the decrease of natural resources. Forty percent of the households send seasonal workers, and half of them go to Thailand. There are fewer people who are experienced in rice planting. More and more farmers sow rice seeds directly in the paddy. Farmers spend less time on farming, which has caused a decrease in crop. Although migrant working brings an increase in income, they have to buy food for their family’s consumption, and many farmers end in the red.
Since October 2015, JVC has started a project in six villages in the Chi Kraeng District of the Siem Reap Province to produce foods to sustain their livelihood. In addition to introducing ecological farming, we started to introduce food processing and edible plants, which are comparatively easy to grow. Furthermore, we provide environmental education and tree planting at primary schools in order to preserve and recover the forests.
Introducing edible plants
Many women learned about edible perennial plants such as chaya, moringa, and katuk (sauropus or sweet leaf), whose leaves are highly nutritious and easy to grow. To enjoy learning about nutrition and start growing edible plants, we held cooking contests in six villages. One hundred and sixty people attended in total. After the workshop, approximately 90 percent of the participants said they have a better understanding toward nutrition and its effects. Around 70 percent started growing the plants themselves.
We provided food-processing training in two villages. The female instructor of the workshop used to be a student of this training course, and now is a very experienced teacher. One hundred and six people attended the workshop. Processing lime, which can easily be found in their gardens, was especially popular. Approximately 70 percent of the participants started processing.
In the JVC’s pilot farm, we conducted comparative cultivation of vegetable and rice. We planted vegetables and herbs, using planters made of used motorbike tires. Used tires are not only cheap or free of charge but can be used on poor soil. In addition, planters are easy to move when we need to avoid dryness during the dry season and floods during the rainy season. In 2018, we are planning to further expand based on the knowledge and experience we earned this year at the pilot farm.
Environmental education and reforestation
We provided environmental education in three primary schools in the villages. We invited elders of the villages who talked about the origin of the name of the village and explained the history of the villages. Students learned about the rich nature they used to have, and how it was lost which led to dramatic change in people’s lives. Around 160 students visited a nearby forest and learned about its richness and ways to utilize various plants. At five schools in the villages, we planted 502 trees with 271 students.
[Source: JVC Annual Report 2017]Share This: