In September 2014, our colleague, Nadezda Matouskova, Director of Agricultural Initiatives, and Ilona Gajdikova, Director of International Development, visited our partner organization KAWP in the Battambang Province of Cambodia. The purpose of the visit was to evaluate the effectiveness of our work on the ground. While there, our colleagues not only had the chance to meet with farmers and our partners at KWAP, but were also afforded the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Czech Development Agency and the Czech Embassy in Cambodia.
Cambodia is one of the most impoverished nations in Southeast Asia. Poverty affects a large portion of the population in rural areas, where the main source of income is rice farming. Profits from agriculture are not as high as they could be, as farmers lack access to training and basic technology.
Our project in Cambodia has been underway since 2014 and is scheduled to conclude in 2016. The nexus of our work in Cambodia is centered in the province of Battambang. Battambang is an incredibly fertile region, where rice is the main cash crop. Along with our local partner KAWP, and our German partner Bread for the World, we organize training programs for farmers in Battambang, where they learn improved cultivation and animal husbandry techniques, along with basic business management.
While on the trip, Diaconia’s Nadezda Matouskova was responsible for working with KAWP to improve the organization’s administrative and financial capacities, along with visiting farmers. KAWP’s project manager, Kae Veasnou, travelled with Nadezda to the village of Bay Damram, where the economy is predominantly supported by rice cultivation.
KAWP and Diaconia held a workshop in the village, where the following farming techniques were discussed at length: use of fertilizer during rice planting, chemical pollution, and problems associated with the harvesting and selling of rice. The key point of the workshop, however, was to train farmers on farm management systems that will enable them to harvest more crops and make their farming systems more efficient. The final leg of the visit was to the farm of Mr. Moni, an organic farmer in the region, who has put into practice the farm plan that KAWP and Diaconia worked with him to develop. It was on his farm that the farmer trainings and workshops have been and will continue to be organized.
In December, Nadezda brought along an agricultural expert in the cultivation of rice, Ms. Jana Lojkova. The point of their joint trip was to prepare for the farmer-training program for 2015. Through consultation with KAWP and the local farmers, it was requested that Diaconia send their own agricultural experts, along with project managers, to help evaluate and offer concrete steps to improve the effectiveness of the program. And that is exactly what we did. Nadezda and Jana were active in preparing Disaster Risk Reduction assessments and offered farming technique trainings and advice. Farmers within the program were trained on composting, dual planting, land management, sustainable cultivation practices, and were encouraged to diversify their farm economies.
Nadezda and Jana visited farmers from 6 villages, from 3 different regions of Battambang, and collected data through questionnaires and interviews with the farmers. The farmers were interviewed directly on their farm sites. Currently, Diaconia and KWAP are together working through the gathered information to plan the 2015 farmer training manual.