Agricultural Training

Equipping & Empowering Rural Communities through training and resource development.  Providing food security, increased job opportunities and economic uplift to rural families in northern Cambodia; developing a model of operation which is financially sustainable.

85% OF PROVINCIAL people rely on agriculture to survive. We train hundreds of farmers in Stung Treng province on effective agriculture practices. This provides food security, increased health, job opportunities and economic uplift to rural families in northern Cambodia. AOC model farm is where we can develop and trial farming techniques before taking these techniques out into the village to teach beneficiaries. Currently the project is training in pig farming, cashew tree grafting techniques, clean cookstoves, trialling honey bees and implementing savings groups. And as comes with lots of trials, come some fails, so there is always something new and exciting happening on the agriculture front.
  In partnership with Samaritan’s Purse.  
 

Researching and trialing new farming technologies

On our 14.8 acre model farm in Stung Treng, we trial new and innovative techniques that will be successful in the Cambodian context. These new farming methods could range from hydroponics to intensive fish farming, bee keeping, mushroom farming, organic farming, livestock husbandry to a diverse range of high-value cropping options like cut flowers, herbs and spices, and a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

We teach better agricultural practices to farmers

The model farm and training centre will be a hub for teaching local farmers improved technologies and practices in Stung Treng. However, AOC has already been training local farmers in Prey Veng province for some time, and has had great success with its courses in animal raising, crop planting, vegetable gardening, and organic farming. Improved practices lead to better financial outcomes for rural farmers.

Facilitating farmer support groups

An important part of the project strategy is to facilitate the formation of locally based farmer support groups, alongside the training sessions. The support groups usually contain five peers, which ensure farmers retain knowledge from training much better, and are motivated to help each other through difficult issues. It is a sustainability measure that helps prolong the benefits of the project long after AOC leaves.

Using environmentally safe organic inputs

Part of the training course is to teach participants about how to utilise the resources around them to create cheap, effective fertilisers and pesticides, that are not sourced from chemicals. The use of chemicals is widespread in Cambodia’s agricultural industry and the harmful effects are already being recognised. With locally sourced inputs, farmers can save money, while sustainably growing organic crops.

Ongoing mentoring of beneficiaries

AOC Agriculture project team members take time to regularly visit and mentor each loan recipient, to help ensure they are successfully growing their business and to help with any issues. Tracking the progress of new crops and monitoring farmers though the process of using new technologies is essential for long-term sustainability. AOC mentors these beneficiaries for one year.

Srey Jen’s Story

Srey Jen (41) and her husband have been raising pigs in their village for the past three years. The first year they raised four pigs, the second year a couple more. Srey Jen joined the AOC village based training where she furthered her knowledge of pig farming. Topics such as vaccines, using medicine, general pig health and how to take care of pigs were covered. With this new information and training, she had the confidence to raise 20 pigs. Her husband works as a school teacher in Stung Treng with a monthly salary of $150. With more pigs now being farmed on their land, they have enough money to support a better lifestyle for the family and can repay their accumulated debt – debt that is typical of a lot of beneficiaries. Srey Jen and Long Sophat hope that next year they can raise up to 30 pigs.

AOC Village savings groups

An effective approach to economic development and resilience for families and communities in rural communities

Despite the successes we had in micro-loans, they didn’t run perfectly, country-wide. We have learnt from experience that locally run savings groups are more beneficial. They teach good stewardship of money. They align with good development principles and strengthen the economy. AOC facilitates a savings group meeting and educates the villagers on the strategies of the co-operative. The Groups are composed of 12 to 15 self-selected individuals who meet regularly and frequently to save an amount based on each member’s ability, creating a sense of ownership. The framework is given by AOC but ultimately the team is responsible for establishing their own rules. Members select their own interest rates for borrowing, this way they can avoid the high fees of microfinance institutions. Typically, the village will select their own treasurer. Groups generally operate in 12 month cycles. At the end of every cycle, the accumulated savings and interest earnings are shared out amongst the membership thus providing useful lump sums to members. A percentage of the accumulated savings is to go towards a community development project of their choice. After each share-out, groups immediately begin another cycle of saving and borrowing.

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