Model Farm & Training Centre

Providing food security, increased job opportunities and economic uplift to rural families in northern Cambodia; Developing a model of operation which is financially sustainable.

Located in Northern Cambodia on the border of Laos and not far from Vietnam, Stung Treng is an impoverished province undergoing dramatic changes as it develops into a major transport and logistical hub – literally at the crossroads of the Greater Mekong Sub-region. This province is home to a predominantly rural population with inadequate access to health care and sanitation facilities, low levels of formal education and life skills, and many superstitious beliefs. As development occurs at an unprecedented rate, bringing new opportunities and threats, these factors may make communities more vulnerable to exploitation. AOC, now firmly established in Stung Treng, has the opportunity to support the people as they experience unprecedented changes. The Land Development project is an interim project serving the larger Agriculture and Education programs. The goal is to develop the recently acquired property in such a way as to provide a multi-purpose place for training, trialling of agricultural techniques, and crops that provide project income.
The benefits are already being seen in the Agriculture training that is currently underway. In the future we hope to train 100 farmers per year in new and efficient agriculture techniques, which will see an increase in the household incomes of hundreds of rural families. This in turn will lead to an economic uplift for their villages and the wider region. The training centre that has recently been completed will be home to not only the Agriculture training course, but to other non-formal education courses in English language, computer skills, and vocational training. Local young people will be given a chance to upskill themselves and have better job opportunities. As the project team works to develop the land further, the plan is for the produce to begin bringing in a profit which would be put directly back into the projects the land supports. Investment in land and agriculture will help AOC work towards a model of financial sustainability.

Training Centre for non-formal education

Our most recent initiative, The Hope Centre (THC), has recently been completed and celebrated its grand opening. THC is AOC’s response to meeting many of the urgent needs of the region. The Centre will bring quality education, micro-finance and resources to the region. THC will provide families with the knowledge and resources necessary to increase their income, secure their future, and provide many of the necessities often taken for granted in the developed world. A wide-range of non-formal education classes are to be offered, from English language to construction, leadership training and computer classes, and other vocational training. The Centre also contains dormitories for trainees from rural areas, and visiting teams. Kitchen and office facilities are also included.

Research & development of agricultural technologies

The R&D component will last beyond the Land Development project, and be taken on by the Agriculture team in the future. Cutting edge, efficient technologies and methods for raising livestock, growing crops and small-scale farming will be tested and developed for the northern Cambodian context. In this way, we will be able to provide local farmers with increasingly effective ways of making a sustainable income.

Practical examples and training for farmers

The model farm, where agricultural methods are tested, as well as where crops are grown for project income, will be hugely useful as hands-on examples for the agriculture training program. Farmers will be able to come and observe the methods, interact and ask relevant questions. The model farm will also provide a space for holding workshops on how to make organic pesticides and fertilisers.

Cropping business for financial sustainability

By working the land to produce crops at sustainable capacity, AOC will be able to offset project expenses through the income accrued. It will also provide our project team with invaluable marketing experience which will be of benefit to the students in our agriculture training course. AOC is working to develop a model of financial sustainability on a project level, and using the land for this purpose provides a great testing ground.

GMS Overview

The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) is a natural economic area bound together by the Mekong River, covering 2.6 million square kilometers and a combined population of around 326 million. Alongside the Asian Development bank, the six nations in the GMS (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, China, Thailand, and Vietnam) have committed to strategically develop the region. Their vision is to see an integrated, harmonious, and prosperous subregion through enhanced connectivity, increased competitiveness, and a greater sense of community. This is primarily being outworked through: infrastructure development of transport routes and telecommunication for cross-border trade and tourism; the development and regional utilization of abundant natural resources, such as energy and agriculture; economic integration and cross-border cooperation, outworked through a single passport and currency for the region, regional investment, and labor mobility. Increasingly, modernization and industrialization are emerging from a process of transition and transformation. The Mekong countries are shifting from subsistence farming to more diversified economies, and to more open, market-based systems. The rich human and natural resource endowments of the Mekong region have made it a new frontier of Asian economic growth. Stung Treng is centrally located in the focus area for development – the economic corridor linking Cambodia and its neighbors – Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. In the following years it is set to become an important transport, communications and tourism hub. For the people of Stung Treng, the opportunities resulting from these changes will be accompanied by risks. Without intervention, increased economic activity could result in escalating exploitation, resource depletion, families forcibly relocated from their land due to development, and increased drug and sex trafficking. AOC is well placed to support the local people as they experience these unprecedented changes. AOC will be able to provide livelihood directed programs to equip Cambodians with the tools for sustainable community transformation. For more detailed information about the GMS development initiative, visit the ADB website – click here.

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