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Sowing the seeds of sustainability

A little bit of training can go a long way in giving poor communities a leg up. With help from Oxfam, Cambodian rice farmers are learning a revolutionary planting technique that can boost their harvests by up to 25 times! That means more food on the table, lower overheads, and the chance to earn money and pay off debts.

Sharing knowledge

Two to three days a week during the rainy season, Yorn Yee makes a three kilometre journey to visit other rice farmers in Kouk Duong Village to share her knowledge on multi-purpose farming. This includes how to make organic fertiliser and pesticides, using natural resources in a sustainable way, and advice on increase their bargaining power in the market.

Training farmers

Yorn is a volunteer for Aphiwat Sitrey, a local organisation funded by Oxfam. She also provides guidance on a groundbreaking rice growing technique. Here she shows Neang Veach, a 53-year-old farmer how to pull up rice seedlings without damaging roots.

Putting in the extra effort

Neang Veach prepares rice seedlings for planting in a nearby plot. “This new technique requires intensive labour, but it’s all worth it because I use a lot less rice seeds and I am able to cut down on my expenses.”

Breaking with tradition

Using the new technique, Neang Veach plants single rice seedlings 25 centimetres apart in straight rows. This is much more effective than the traditional scattering technique.

Amazing results

Since switching to the technique, Yorn uses only 200 grams of seeds compared to aerial scattering, which required about five kilograms of seeds on the same plot of land. “It’s like a miracle. After five days, one rice stem splits into two shoots, five shoots after eight days and eight shoots after 11 days.” Using less rice seeds and fertiliser, Yorn has been able to save money to buy a new bicycle and clothes.

Making a profit

Neang Veach (left) and Teack Voeut sit next to their rice paddy. “At first I didn’t believe that a single stem could split into so many shoots, but we tried it anyway. The result is astonishing!” says Teack Voeut. “We made enough profit from selling our rice to pay off our debt.”

All Photos by: Jim Holmes

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