Agriculture and Farming

2.0 NEEDS ANALYSIS 

2.1 Brief Background to the Situation
The Kingdom of Cambodia  is a country in Southeast Asia with a 2014 population estimate of 15,474,460. Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhists of Khmer extraction, but the country also has a substantial number of predominantly Muslim Cham (5%), and Christianity (2%).
 
Cambodia is still recovering from the Pol Pot years 1975 to 1978, when the country was plunged into the dark ages with a radical policy determined to return the nation to ‘year zero’.  Despite positive progress according to the official MDG markers, the reality is that many people in rural areas remain illiterate, unskilled, malnourished, and living below subsistence level. The government is hindered in helping effectively due to lack of funding and human resources. Family values have eroded since the advent of TV with many families impacted by the effects of alcoholism, gambling, and sadly HIV/AIDs.
 
Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Asia - only 20% of the population is officially employed.  The other 80% are involved in the agricultural parts of the country.  All fuel and most raw materials, capital equipment and consumer goods must be imported.  Despite recent progress, the Cambodian economy continues to suffer from the effects of decades of civil war, internal strife and rampant corruption. The per capita income is rapidly increasing, but is low compared with other countries in the region. Most rural households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors. Rice, fish, timber, garments and rubber are Cambodia's major exports.
 
The war and its aftermath have had a marked effect on the Cambodian population. The median age is a low 20.6 years, with 35.6% younger than 15.  

Despite the obvious necessity for good education to train the high numbers of children, the population as a whole lacks education. In a country where 40% of the total population are living below the poverty line (CIA World Factbook 2004), the effects of poverty directly impact children in this region.  Parents not only struggle to provide food and education for their families, many are affected by domestic violence, gambling and alcohol addiction. 
Children of families in this situation are at direct risk of being sold into prostitution or slavery. Through a lack of education of the parents, children living in poverty are also growing up without basic life skills to equip them for the future.  Issues such as poor nutrition which causes health problems both now and later in life, a lack of basic financial skills necessary to run a home or small business, and low literacy levels amongst the poor are all challenges of children growing up in this region. 
 
Although local public schools are available the level of education is very poor and many who do start school drop out by their teenage years to work at menial tasks in order to support their family. In this region employment opportunities are scarce and training needs to be implemented before initiating micro enterprises with continued ongoing support to ensure its’ success.  
 
2.2 Statement of Development Needs / Issues
 

Many rural communities are still suffering from severe poverty and lack of education. Most overseas development aid is focused on the major urban areas. The beneficiaries in the communities where we work are mainly illiterate. Many lose their land as they do not know how to farm properly. They borrow from money lenders, or chemical companies, or banks to buy fertilizer and seed. They often cannot afford to pay this back and eventually they lost their land, and they may even bond their children into servitude or sell them. In spite of these losses they often lose all their land as they still cannot afford to pay back their exensive loans.
 
Dispossessed rural people then migrate to the cities where they become dependant on handouts as beggars or reliant on NGO support. Women are expected to work very hard to earn a living and taking care of the household. Girls are more likely to be sold than boys for labour or to pay back loans. Girls and boys are equally sold for the illegal trade in body parts, for trafficking, prostitution and child pornography.
 
2.2.1 Direct & Indirect Beneficiaries
Direct beneficiaries will include those signed up to participate in the training and recipients of the cassettes,  listeners of the radio station, community leaders who attend the week-long training conferences, those who apply for aquaponics setups, and others working within the project.  Those attending vocational training or university through scholarship programs. 
 
Indirect beneficiaries are those in the local community including community leaders, police officers, shopkeepers and other members of society either directly or indirectly related to the trainees. Through the education of the trainees and subsequent employment, poverty in the community will be reduced, many of the basic health problems will be eliminated amongst the target population.  
 
At present the ratio of male to female trainees is higher, however the beneficiaries of the training will include a broad sector of the local community.  Vocational training for both men and women includes basic life and social skills training and therefore the future partners and families of trainees will benefit through a reduction in domestic violence and a higher standard of living through the employment of the head of household.  
 
Description of Direct or Indirect    No of Beneficiaries
Families - direct Beneficiaries     300 families x 6 members each = 1800 people. An additional 7 million people may be within range of the radio station broadcasts. 
Broader community – Indirect Beneficiaries 18,000

 

2.3 How the Project will Address Development Needs / Issues
The project will work with selected, committed, families to provide business and life skills training and the tools and equiment necessary for them to operate their own aquaponics systems at home. This will provide a sustainable supply of vegetables and fish, both for the family’s consumption and for sale locally and contribute to the family income. The recording of cassettes for specific enrolled participants, and the ongoing use of the radio station will ensure that the messages with training on life skills, good morals,  business principles, health and hygiene have a far reaching ongoing impact in the target rural areas.
 
As the families we will work with are in remote rural areas and often have limited formal education, we will provide training with a multi- pronged approach using aquaponics for poverty reduction, a training course which will be undertaken by multiple members of each community together, and the ongoing broadcasting of these messages via the radio station. 
 
To initiate the training we will host a regional leader and a family representative from each of the 300 families at the Sovanapoom Care Community Centre for one week. Participants will stay onsite with food and accommodation provided. During this week the participants will receive training on life skills, business principles, and aquaponics.  Life skills training will include: good sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, positive parenting, solid marriage principles, and the dangers of alcohol, gambling and violence. Business principles training will cover basic finance and business skills which will provide foundational attributes for running their home finances and a small family business. The aquaponics will introduce participants to aquaponics and train them on the use of the aquaponics system.
 
Upon successful completion of the week-long training program participants will receive 1) a cassette player with their first training cassette, and 2) materials for their own aquaponics system.  Whilst the cassette player may appear as an outdated technology to some, it continues to be widely used and understood in these remote localities.  We can also easily record new training to cassette and distribute these to the participants all throughout the year.  The aquaponics system will contain the necessary equipment which combined with easily available local materials (pipes, gravel, tarpaulin, etc), will allow the participants to setup their own aquaponics system at their home.  

 
 
Aquaponics is already widely used across Asia and in Africa as is being recognised as an effective adaptive tool especially in areas that are feeling the affects of climate change.  The system uses minimal water as once it is filled it recirculates the water from the fish tank through the vegetables and only requires topping up for the water lost through evaporation. 
 
Families will be able to raise fish in the tank and the solar panel will provide power for the water pump to send the nutrient rich water from fish to grow vegetables in grow-beds filled with a growing media. For the growing media we will use gravel which is easily available locally. The water fills the grow beds and flows through, automatically draining into the fish tank below. The water brings the nutrients direct to the plant roots as it drains it drags oxygen down through the roots. The plants will grow to maturity up to a month earlier than plants grown in the ground under optimum conditions. 
 
The advantage of this method is that it requires less land than traditional vegetable farming, it is chemical free and therefore better for health and for the environment than the use of chemicals in traditional farming.  
 
In addition to the advantages mentioned above, we anticipate the system to provide multifacted beneficts to the beneficiary families. For example the mother can stay at home and run this system by herself while her husband can be out doing his other farming. She is free to look after the needs of her children and/or sell some of the fish in the market.  This will reduce the common practice of one or both parents temporarily migrating to the city or even to Thailand in search of work. This migration opens the door to significant risk for the family including child or human trafficking, it greatly increases the risk of one or both parents contracting HIV/AIDs, and children without parental care are more likely to drop out of school to enter the workforce early. 
 

3.0 PROJECT DESIGN

3.1 The Major Development Objectives
To relieve poverty and build capacity so that participating families in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and other central-north Cambodian Provinces are resilient, self-sufficient, and thriving in these remote rural areas.