Improving incomes for rice farmers: a photo blogpost from Cambodia

by Susan Beccio

This is a story about hardship and resilience. It's a story about people who struggle against chronic poverty and hunger. It's about rice farmers who sometimes don't have enough food to eat, but who are determined to improve their lives. It is a story of triumph.

Hun Koen, 40, cuts rice on her one-hectare plot in Krabaov village, Cambodia. She belongs to a 
200-member rice cooperative.  Though her profits have increased in 2014, unexpected health 
costs sent her back into debt. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio
Cambodia is home to 4.8 million poor people. Ninety per cent of them live in rural areas and most depend on agriculture for their livelihood. About 88 per cent of the rural population owns a small plot of land, often less than two hectares.  These small-scale farmers produce food at the subsistence level, for the most part without access to modern farming techniques or equipment.

I was in the north Cambodian countryside this week visiting members of the Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri (RULIP).  Although the IFAD-funded project was completed in September 2014, many of the activities are ongoing.

The villagers I met were eager to show me what they had learned and how far they had come.  I think that the pictures speak for themselves.

Chum Lyvon (left), 47, (left) belongs to a women’s group in Kampot village.  
Group members make fresh egg noodles and sell to village farmers. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Workers harvest cassava on a test plot that was part of a farmers’ field school in Morset village. 
Although cassava is not a common crop in Southeast Asia, it was introduced because it grows 
well and provides a staple alternative to rice. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Chea Sokray, 33, on her small farm in Tnolkorng village. She is also a rice and cassava farmer, 
but raises pigs to supplement her income and her family’s diet. Even so, she says they are still 
hungry for a few months each year. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Farmer grows organic long beans on a small vegetable plot in Kampot village. She also grows papaya, 
moringa, banana, jack fruit, guava, mung bean and lemons. She and her husband belong to a vegetable 
growers’ cooperative and lead in testing new crops and sharing their experience with other cooperative 
members. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Pom Sopbean, 25, raises ducks on her farm in Senmonorom village. She is recognized as a “model" farmer 
in her community and trains other farmers in the area. Pom recently won third prize in a national 
rice seed competition and is very proud of her accomplishment. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Kuy Samoeun lights a biogas stove to make tea in her home in Krohorm village. She is a 61-year-old  
rice farmer who practices modern, integrated farming techniques. Kuy raises pigs and uses the 
manure to fuel a small biogas digester that generates energy for cooking. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Uoun Sokry, 23, feeds her two-year-old daughter York Narong in Tek Krohorm village. She belongs to a 
women’s group that organises hands-on nutrition awareness training. Mothers learn about the three food 
groups: “energy”, “protein” and “vitamins”, and how to prepare nutritious food for their families. 
©IFAD/Susan Beccio