By: Somathy Prak, Networking and Resource Mobilization Manager, Heifer Cambodia
Sarom Chou and her husband live with their four children in Cambodia's Wat Roka village. They once depended on rice production to support the family's nutrition needs; However, the yield was just enough for home consumption. They began looking for alternatives to meet non-food needs. They opened a small grocery store in their village, which netted a very small profit. The family really wanted to raise chickens because they knew there was potential for earning money in a short amount of time, but their lack of knowledge and skills in this area made them hesitant.
In mid-2009, Heifer's Womens Empowerment and Holistic Community Development project started in Wat Roka. Heifer partnered with Aphiwat Srey (AS) to implement the project and encourage the community to work together toward food security and harmonization. When Saroms family learned about the projects purpose, they joined the Sok Chamroeun women's group and became one of 23 project families.
Through the project, the couple participated in a series of technical trainings, especially homestead gardening and poultry husbandry. They received 10 ducks (nine female and one male), horticulture seeds and fruit tree seedlings. They applied simple homestead garden development techniques and began planting vegetables, cassava, corn and other crops on unused land surrounding the house. Since using chicken manure compost, land quality has improved and vegetables and crops have produced good yields. As a result, the family enjoys improved nutrition and sells the surplus for additional income. Their 10 ducks have become a flock of dozens, which Sarom sells every three months. The family has built separate pens for baby, young adult and fattened ducks. They keep some duck eggs for hatching and sell some. This family, once hesitant to engage in poultry husbandry, raises seven hens and 37 chickens, as well.
I use some money from selling vegetables and crops to buy rice bran for duck feed, Sarom said. My husband collects banana trees from villagers after they cut their fruits, then I chop them into small pieces and mix with rice bran to feed the ducks twice a day.
Sarom and her husband spend most of their time working on the farm, and their children help run the grocery store after school. I am happy with my ducks and working in my homestead garden, Sarom said. The yields from my farm inspire my family to work harder, even when they are tired. Before joining the project, we only had income from our small grocery shop, but now we have diversified income from homestead gardening and poultry that keeps increasing. We have enough money to invest in our childrens education. Many thanks to Heifer and AS for making my familys dream come true.