Changing lives in Cambodia
Chum Yeu lives with her husband and five children in a tiny one room timber-framed house, in a small village in Stung Treng province in Cambodia. There are only 178 families in the village, most of whom are farmers struggling to grow crops due to the changing weather and increasingly hot summers.
Chum Yeu and her family grow enough rice to eat at home, and a number of fruit and vegetables, from a small patch of land outside their house, which they sell at the market. Since 2016, she had been struggling to earn enough money to survive, living on as little as £2 a day, as a lack of water left her unable to grow vegetables in the hottest months of the year. Sometimes they had to skip meals because they couldn’t afford to eat.
Thankfully, since 2018 things have been changing for Chum Yeu and her family. She joined a local co-operative group run by SCIAF, with support from the UK government’s Aid Match programme. As a group member, she learnt about growing vegetables using drip irrigation, how to prepare her land, protect her crops from insects, make fertiliser and prepare a production plan to meet market needs. After receiving seeds and a drip irrigation system, to provide adequate water to her crops year-round, Chum Yeu has been able to rapidly increase the quantity and quality of her crop, growing vegetables like cabbages, aubergines, and long beans.
Once her crop began to sell better at the market, she was able to expand her land from 900sq ft to 5,000sq ft, using her income to buy more drip irrigation equipment and cow dung to better compost the land. Today, Chum Yeu has almost doubled her income, earning over £125 a month. She’s been able to buy a bicycle for the family, and clothes for her son to go to school. The family also eat a well rounded three meals a day, and are much healthier as a result.
Because of the drip irrigation system, I can spend less time watering the vegetables. My family now has more money thanks to the sale of our vegetables, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with other villagers who also want to grow more.Chum Yeu