Model farmers improve their livelihoods

Mr. Yuk Thy, 74 years, Ms. Uch Ith, 57 years, and Mr. Duong Yoan, 54 years, from Kampong Thom province, Chey commune, Kampong Svay district, used to be poor farmers. All three are heads of their families, with seven, five, and five family members respectively depending on them for income. They all struggled to provide enough food and money for their families, and were selected to be model farmers of the ELRCC project funded by World Food Programme (WFP). As model farmers, they learned how to implement Integrated Farming System (IFS) techniques in order to diversify and increase their incomes.

Before getting involved in the ELRCC project, the farmers earned their living by growing rice and vegetables in small plots, mainly for their own food consumption. In order to improve their incomes, they tried additional businesses like poultry raising in the past, but due to cash limitations and other problems the results were not as positive as hoped.

In 2015, Mr. Yuk Thy’s total annual income was just USD 800-1,000, Ms. Uch Ith earned USD 250, and Mr. Duong Yoan USD 750-800, topped up by rice production on their small plots of land. Rice production was increasingly threatened by droughts, and income not sufficient to comfortably support their families.

The WFP fund has been introduced to poor farmers in Chey commune through Mlup Baitong’s ELRCC project aiming to enable farmers to develop capacities and adaptation mechanisms for enhancing livelihood resilience to climate change, particularly for agricultural business development. The project provided training on e.g. compost making, vegetable growing, and fish and chicken raising. This diversified range of farming activities helps poor farmers to obtain a much greater return for their efforts.

All models farmers were trained in IFS techniques and given the opportunity to visit successful model farmers in Takeo province. The project provided them with agricultural materials, as well as breeding fishes and chickens for starting up their integrated farming systems. They implemented their projects in late 2015.

By February 2016 their activities showed impressive results: Mr. Thy produced 200 kgs of vegetables, fish, and chicken, and sold them to the local market for USD 800-1,125 in return. Similarly, Ms. Ith produced 60 kgs and received USD 125 at the market. Mr. Yoan sold 150 kgs for USD 300-350. The additional income increases their regular incomes significantly, and they used parts of the additional money to support their children’s education.

Their families are proud of what they have achieved. “This is the first time ever in my life that I have in hand such cash from non-seasonal farming”, Ms. Ith says.

Implementing integrated farming systems is not as hard as other types of agricultural work. All three families are planning to expand their businesses to meet market demands. They are not worried about the marketing and labor connected to this expansion, as members of their family are able to do the work and the district town provides a big market with many customers. Many community members are impressed by the achievements of the model farmers and want to apply the IFS techniques themselves in the future.