Woman wins model farming award in Cambodia - March 2015

A Cambodian woman who used to rely on doing odd jobs for a living has become one of the top five winners in the latest round of farming competition organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

During a ceremony on Thursday, 19 March, the Ministry declared Ms. Roun March, 48, the fifth winner of the “Integrated Farming System” competition and handed her a prize package that included a pumping generator, US$150 and a certificate.

“This was my first time to make a presentation in front of hundreds of participants. I was nervous but I tried my best, and I’m happy with what I have received,” said Ms. March from Thomachiet village, Preah Vihear province in northern Cambodia.The single mother of two children is one of 13,581 villagers who are benefiting from a project funded by Canada, GEF and UNDP. The project – Promoting Climate-Resilient Water Management and Agricultural Practices in Rural Cambodia – is implemented by the Project Support Unit of MAFF. Apart from helping address the problem of water shortage, the project also trains the villagers on techniques to diversify farming to increase their food security, income and resilience to impacts of climate change.

A total of 210 farmers took part in the 6th Farmers’ Assembly competition which began on 10 February and concluded on 19 March. During the contest, they were tested about their technical knowledge and implementation skills on subjects such as crop diversification, rice field irrigation, livestock and fish raising and, last but not least, community forest management to reduce impact of climate change.

The award – although it was the last among the five – was rather significant for Ms. March, who, until two years ago, had to rely on working in other villagers’ farms in exchange for meager pay to support herself and two daughters. But life has turned around for the better after the project arrived at her village in 2013 with a package of livelihood support system that included a solar water pump set and farming diversification techniques.

“I am not going to sit around to be reminded about what I should do. I will keep working hard and through that I hope to make more money,” Ms. March once said. “Working hard – not to please anyone but for my own sake.”

She said that, in 2014, she earned 12.42 million Riels (US$3,105) from selling produce she grows around her house. She added that, by increasing vegetable plots and livestock, she expected her income to grow by 29 percent this year.

“When I’m back home, I’ll continue sharing my experience in particular the improvement of soil quality through growing various types of vegetable to other villagers,” said March after receiving the award on Thursday.

The other four winners with higher prizes were from Kampong Chhnang, Siem Reap, Svay Rieng and Battambang provinces.

Ms. Roun March receives her prize for winning fifth place in the integrated farming competition organized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Photo: Naratevy Kek/UNDP Cambodia