What Can $300 Do In the Quest Towards Sustainable Agriculture? Turns Out…A Lot!

Our Cambodia fellow, Brian, did a lot with a little in his work with sustainable agriculture in the community. A combination of knowledge, partnering with dynamic local organizations, and Cambodian citizens ready and eager to learn new ideas resulted in a day of robust community education. Although the amount of time, mental and physical labor, and specific talent of the people put to task on this project can’t be under-estimated, it is worth noting that these types of trainings can be funded for less than $300.This sum is particularly impressive as these trainings impact many more than those in attendance. Participants represent a number of Cambodian communities who stand to benefit from the lower cost and higher efficiency of the practices taught.

I planned and coordinated the first [sustainable agriculture] community training, which was conducted on 2/20/2012.  Twenty-five target beneficiaries representing 15 villages, PLHIV and/or low income family households, were chosen through [the organization’s] already existing service community.  These 25 individuals are leaders of their respective villages which surround the orphanage.  These leaders will hopefully utilize and share what they learned with others in their village. Basic sustainable agriculture techniques were taught in a one day training and workshop performed by a Global Service Corps’ (GSC) partner.  This partner has been promulgating sustainable agriculture and food security in Cambodia for the past 14 years and is a key partner to GSC’s and the orphanage’s work in the Takeo province.

The organization’s Khmer trainer was very impressive, effective and efficient in teaching two styles of composting, three styles of raised beds, and liquid compost.  In addition, everyone observed the demonstration center (raised bed, compost, water storage) that we built to see the beneficial results of using these valuable techniques.  These techniques can be especially critical to this province because it is one of the driest relative to other regions in Cambodia, if not most of Southeast Asia, and lags behind in agricultural production.

The itinerary consisted of ice breakers, setting goals and expectations for the entire day, discussion sessions, promulgating sustainability and organic [farming] over conventional farming and chemical use, how to utilize feasible and readily available resources, how to form farming groups to sell their produce to GSC’s partner organization through market incentives, lunch!, and hands-on training of all techniques, among other topics.

In summary, the training was successful, community attendees had a fun and fruitful time, and there was chatter amongst all attendees about the possibilities with their newfound knowledge.  The total cost of the one day training was $269.88 and approximately $238.73 is remaining for a second training.  Again, congratulations to everyone for donating and giving this community a chance to thrive.

-Brian R., Cambodia Sustainable Agriculture Fellow, 2012


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