Cambodia is located on the Gulf of Thailand in Southeast Asia between Vietnam, Laos and Thailand; the country’s landscape is made up of low lying central plains, low mountains and the upper reaches of the Mekong Delta.
It’s a land in recovery. Rich in history and natural resources, Cambodia is influenced by decades of war and conflict. Ranked 139th out of the world’s 196 countries on the 2011 Human Development Index, it’s considered one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite recent socio-economics progress, 31 percent of the country’s estimated 15 million people live on less than $1.25 a day.
In Cambodia, 80 percent of the population lives in rural areas and half of the workforce is employed in agriculture, the country’s major industry. Rice farming is prevalent and many villagers raise cattle and pigs. However, due to slow growth and high mortality rates combined with a lack of education and access to new technologies, productivity is slow and many families can only produce enough food for a few months out of the year. When food is in short supply, many farmers end up borrowing money from lenders, usually with interest rates as high as 10 percent.
Heifer's Work in Cambodia
To address the challenges of income deficiency, lack of nutritional food options and small farmer education, Heifer International Cambodia uses a holistic development approach that encourages rural families to become involved in the community development process. To begin with, families receive a package of agricultural inputs, like a cow or two piglets, fish fingerlings, fodder, vegetable seeds and cassava stems, apply the Heifer Cornerstones, receive education and training in technical skills so that they are able to improve and diversify their food production in a sustainable manner. This process builds up self-confidence and provides a way to be self-reliant for a better future.
Heifer Cambodia works with small farmers to improve productivity and provide access to markets. Heifer enables limited-resource farm families to improve the quality of their lives and equips them to assist others, providing opportunities for families to produce and share food and income from their own resources in ways that are economically and ecologically sound. Based on Heifer’s best practice on internalized holistic development, the participating families form and work as self help groups, which encourages full participation.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: Organic farming and composting
Post-harvest management and processing
Market development: Based on value chain approach and analysis, the project will help the project participant to minimize constraints to swine and chicken input supply; Production and marketing through the functional cooperatives/farmer associations.
Technology: Artificial Insemination (AI) will be employed in swine breeding to maintain and multiply sources of good stock. Capacity building on AI will be provided to the community animal health workers.
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
My last stop – Cambodia! Country Directory Keo Keang (or KK as she prefers to be called) and her team are very passionate about Heifer’s work in Cambodia, and it shows in their interactions with the communities.
Susan Sarandon reflects on her trip to Heifer Cambodia.