Stories of Change

Khoeun with some of his vegetables.

Water conservation changes a family’s life in Cambodia

There are a few things that all farmers need in order to succeed. They need land to plant, seeds to grow, good weather conditions and, of course, water!

But what happens when you’re a farmer without enough water?

That’s the reality that Chum Khoeun and his family faced just six months ago. Their seven-acre farm in western Cambodia faced frequent water shortages, but the family relied on growing rice both for food and to earn money.

So there just wasn’t enough.

They couldn’t plant and harvest enough rice to even meet their own needs during the year, let alone rice that they could sell to pay other bills. Khoeun and his family members – he lives with his wife Neang Nim and their three children – would work as day laborers. It was one of very few ways that they could earn extra money to buy rice and other food.

Things changed in the middle of 2018, when Khoeun and his neighbors began to participate in a CWS program focusing on home gardening. Khoeun suddenly had access to new ideas and information that he could use to improve his farming. He now had a support network of other farmers where he could share ideas and ask questions. Plus, he learned about how to set up a drip-irrigation system that would stretch each drop of water further on his land. He received seeds to diversify his crop and the materials he needed to build the drip-irrigation system, and he got to work.

In the six months since he joined the CWS program, things have already changed drastically. Khoeun can provide better for his family. They have vegetables to eat and enough to sell In the first planting and harvesting season, which ran from September to December, Khoeun harvested twice. He earned almost $500, which he used to buy seeds for the next planting cycle and to buy rice and other staples. His family now has a much better diet and doesn’t face the food shortages that they used to.

“I am so happy for the opportunity to have joined these activities,” Khoeun says. “I have new knowledge and practical experience to grow vegetables safely; and, with my producer group support, I believe I can grow even more vegetables to sell in the future.”