Mr. Yu Ka: “My family’s income has now increased by 16.66 times compared to the last year”. A story of a vegetable producer

Over the past 10 years, reduced availability of land and non-timber forest products, as well as increased frequency of hazards and climate variability, have made the situation even worst. In this situation, indigenous communities particularly in Ratanakiri province, a northeastern province of Cambodia, struggle to make a living, and to produce enough food to eat.

Mr. Yu Ka with disability, 44 and his wife, Klem Ab, 40, live in Laen Chong village in O’chum commune, Ratanakiri province with 3 daughters and 1 son, aged 9, 12,16 and 20. His family owns 4 Ha of rice land, 1 Ha of cashew farm and 1ha of cash crops and vegetable farm. Some parts of the land will be given away to their children when they get married.

To earn a living, Mr. Yu Ka’s family cultivates rice, cassava, cashew and corn, long bean and vegetables. Over the years, his family earned just enough to support the household consumption and cover family basic needs. He said that his family’s crop production did not yield well because they lacked production skills and their crops were often destroyed by insects. They made only 150,000 Riel ($37.5) from vegetable production per a three-month season last year.

As indigenous farmers, whose living depends only on farm produce, he and his wife always sought for opportunities to improve their agricultural skills/techniques. In 2016, Ockenden and ETEA Foundation team, under a project founded by “laCaixa” Foundation, selected him along with other villagers to get a training course on vegetable production by their needs. The training was conducted by Ockenden and ETEA in collaboration with the Provincial Department of Agriculture aimed to enable the IP farmers to enhance their crop production skills.

In Mr. Yu Ka´s words, “following the training, I firstly passed the skills I learnt from the course to my wife and all four children so that they could together do the farming. They were responsible for land preparation, crop irrigation, harvesting the crops and transporting produce to the markets. I am responsible for planting and taking care of the crops”.

Mr. Yu Ka continued telling his experience: “I have applied some of organic/natural farming skills I obtained from the training to improve vegetable growing. I made compost and organic insecticides and repellents and applied on the plants. For a period, vegetables and other plants were growing very well and green with good yields.”

He added that “in this recent vegetable harvest season, my family made up to 2,500,000 Riel ($625) from selling vegetables alone and we will expand this business in the coming season. My family’s income has now increased by 16.66 times compared to the last year’s harvest season. With the income, we now bought a motorbike for transporting our farm produce to market. I am so happy with the success and strongly hope to expand the business for the next season. Many thanks to the donor, laCaixa Foundation.”

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