'Fifty bags of rice’, Sun Ream declares proudly. Her eyes light up as she describes her recent rice harvest and the changes she has made to her farming practices. The 50 bags of rice in question are the surplus rice that she will share with her family, something that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.
Sun, a mother of four, living in a remote village in North East Cambodia makes a living from the land. She and her husband work tirelessly to provide for their family and earn an income. Sun explains that her husband is currently in the forest looking for fish in the river, he may be back today, but if not he will stay in the forest until he catches some.
Sun’s family have a rice field, vegetable plantation and raise chickens and pigs, but things weren’t always this way. Five years ago CARE partnered with Sun’s village to help address some of the problems they faced. The remote location of the village meant that access to services such as healthcare, education and markets was limited. The community also practiced traditional farming techniques which often didn’t generate enough food to eat, and in this drought prone region access to reliable water was a significant problem for drinking, washing and farming- with long journeys required to collect one of life’s essentials.
CARE took an integrated approach to helping the community overcome these problems and over a number of years has worked in partnership with the community to identify their needs, develop solutions and help families like Sun’s to lift themselves out of poverty.
Sun describes her experience, ‘CARE provided us with technical planting training and seeds for rice and vegetables. We now have enough crops to eat and to sell.’ Sun’s knowledge and experience of farming techniques has improved over the past few years and she credits the increase in crop production to the training she has received. Sun is delighted that she now has surplus rice to share with her family. She currently has around 50 sacks of rice weighing 50 kilograms each for this purpose. Surplus supply also means the family is better placed to overcome future challenges with a staple food in reserve.
The community’s resilience has also improved with the introduction of new water sources, which help the villagers in times of drought. Ratanak Kiri province experiences a six month dry season with no rainfall at all; water is a precious resource under increased pressure from land clearing and changes in land usage.
Sun reflects, ‘I felt happy when the pond was built because we had the water nearby and did not have to spend so much time getting water for planting and washing.’ She adds, ‘I save money and time because of the water nearby.’
Sun adds, ’We had greater [crop] output, even when the drought happened because we had water in the pond to use.’
The changes for Sun’s community have been significant; they are equipped with the tools and knowledge to ensure the changes they have made will be sustainable and can be scaled up.
Sun recalls, ‘Before [CARE partnered with the community] my house didn’t have anything and CARE came and provided support and now things are growing and we practice the new techniques we learned.’
’We are happier than before because we are growing, we are raising chickens and pigs and also growing rice.’