The KJC team and community members in Phnom Dei have been busy learning new skills as part of phase 2 of Dana Asia’s relief action plan in Cambodia. Phase 2 upskills community members in home-based vegetable growing as the first step towards creating sustainable solutions to food insecurity. Vegetable growing is something a lot of rural community members already do at home, but few are successful enough to make a meaningful income. Our aim through this project is to arm trainees with the necessary skills and resources for best chance of success growing vegetables as a home-based enterprise.
Phase 1 of the relief action plan was completed in August when 173 food packages containing rice, dried fish, and basic condiments were distributed in three communities in Siem Reap province. Surges in COVID-19 cases in the following weeks resulted in localised lockdowns which delayed the start of phase 2, but things got back on track last month when restrictions were lifted and we were able to move forward with training partner Trailblazer Foundation. Trailblazer is a local NGO working to improve food security and economic development in rural Cambodia, promoting self-sufficiency through livelihoods skills training and other health, education, water, and food security programs. You can learn more about their work here.
A total of nine people took part in the livelihood skills training sessions which were held in October. Members of the KJC Farm team and local community members took part in two sessions on home-based vegetable growing led by Trailblazer’s agriculture experts. The trainers shared knowledge and practical skills in all aspects of best-practice vegetable growing, including soil preparation, watering, and fertilisation. Armed with this new knowledge, the next step is for trainees to set up a trial garden on KJC Farm land which will be used as a community garden to test different vegetables. With KJC being home to several thousand chickens, high-quality compost is in no short supply! Market research is being conducted on which vegetables are widely available, which sell well, and what market prices we can expect.
With some research done and more growing experience in the community garden, the team will have a clearer idea of what to grow to develop a more formal marketing strategy. At this point we will enter into phase 3, where Dana Asia will support local families to set up home-based gardens, providing microfinance-type loans, capital, access to markets where they can sell their produce, including a KJC Farm store which is planned for opening in January 2022.