Rice farming used to be the only source of income for Dy Moth and Hourt Kim. In 2019, they joined the model farming initiative supported by the Collaborative Management for Watershed and Ecosystem Service Protection and Rehabilitation (CoWES) project. As a result of the training they received, they were able to implement organic farming to diversify their income. From their initial plot of soil, not only organic vegetables, but their income and future opportunities have grown.
Dy Moth and Hourt Kim used to depend solely on rice farming. For three to six months of the year, their field did not produce enough rice to feed their family of seven. When there was enough rice for subsistence, they were able to sell only limited amounts of additional rice to cover costs for other food items, household products, and health treatments for the stomach conditions faced by their family. Water shortages further prevented them from planting more than a small number of household vegetables, and any vegetables purchased were from outside of their village where they could be bought at a more affordable rate than local vegetables.
In 2018, a road was constructed in Dock Por village, Kampong Speu province, in front of their house. The road construction team agreed to dig a pond for Dy Moth and Hourt Kim to address the family’s water shortages, in exchange for the excavated soil used to build the road.
With increased access to water, Dy Moth began to plant cucumbers, tomatoes, bitter melons, string beans, morning glory, and other vegetables. Hourt Kim, a person with a disability, received training on agriculture techniques as a part of the model farming initiative facilitated by Mlup Baitong, and supported by the Collaborative Management for Watershed and Ecosystem Service Protection and Rehabilitation (CoWES) project. These techniques included planting in a box to save on water and fertilizer, and the trip system of covering planted vegetables with plastic to protect them from rapid water and fertilizer evaporation. Following this training, Hourt Kim started to make fertilizer from compost and natural pesticide and learn how to plant using less water.
Hourt Kim noticed initial success with planting vegetables, generating a higher income than he would have through performing general labor, and he expanded the family’s plot of land to grow larger volumes of organic vegetables. The family now has a year-round food supply and a daily income that allows them to save an additional $3-5 per day.
The lives of Hourt Kim and Dy Moth’s family and community members have also been enhanced beyond monetary measures. “My family’s health condition has improved because we now eat organic vegetables,” Dy Moth says of the benefits she has seen from this initiative.
From the initial plot of soil, it is not only organic vegetables that are growing but also the family’s next generation of entrepreneurship. Dy Moth and Hourt Kim’s daughter now uses the organic papayas, string beans, and tomatoes grown in the family’s plot to make and sell her own papaya salad. Organic farming, supported by the CoWES project, has opened up new opportunities beyond what the family imagined when the model farming initiative began.