Source: written and published by Australia’s National Poultry Newspaper www.poultrynews.com.au (February 2021).

> Download original article as PDF here (on page 16)

The devastating economic impact of COVID-19 has left many people in Cambodia without work. The normally bustling tourist town of Siem Reap has seen an estimated 85 percent reduction in tourism compared to previous years, according to the Cambodian Government. Here, the local economy relies almost entirely on income from tourists visiting the famous Angkor Wat site. 

Now, all those who once worked in the tourist industry as drivers or guides and those in the hospitality and hotel industry find themselves without work and without income. In many cases, these people have families living in rural villages whom rely on their income to support the family. 

As an organisation working to find ways of tackling the root causes of poverty in Cambodia, Dana Asia is developing social business and training to bring new opportunities to the most marginalised communities. Dana Asia’s Outgrower project aims to address the issues of poverty by giving families an alternative option for income generation – poultry farming. 

Smallholder poultry farming can be done in addition to other work to reduce a family’s reliance on one income stream. 

Outgrower project team (R-L): Dana Asia Cambodia projects lead Ms Sreykouch, technical consultant Mr Jhun, KJC Farm supervisor Mr Nak, Outgrower trainers Ms Salat and Ms Mom

After a period of intensive training by the experienced team on Dana Asia’s social business farm, KJC Farm, a chicken shed is constructed and Outgrower farmers are given up to 500 chicks to raise. When mature, the chickens are sold into the restaurant market and profit generated goes to the farmer. 

As of January 6, 2021 a total of six farms are in operation across two communities in Siem Reap province. These farmers are currently achieving an average 96.7 percent survival rate. When the chickens reach maturity, the KJC sales team facilitates the sale of the chickens to generate an income for the farmer. With restaurants and hotels so quiet, alternative markets are being sought. Local ceremonies offer such a market, with chicken being widely consumed at weddings and other local festivals. 

Any further expansion of the Outgrower network will be slower than originally planned until the market improves. In the meantime, the business model is being refined and the training program developed to be ready for growth when the time comes. 

Since the first pilot commenced in November 2018, the Outgrower project team has learnt a  considerable amount about smallholder farming within the unique Cambodian context. 

KJC farmers training certificates

Outgrower farmers receiving certificates upon completion of training

The project has not been without its challenges. Most issues faced by Outgrower farmers have  been related to inadequate biosecurity practices. The concept of biosecurity was almost unheard of in the local style of chicken growing, which accounts for why many local smallholders struggled to keep their chickens alive to the point of sale. The Outgrower training therefore gives particular focus to the importance of biosecurity and includes a period of applied practice on KJC Farm, under the strict supervision of the farm manager. 

Only once trainees have completed the training sessions and the period of hands-on work experience will they qualify as Outgrower farmers. In order for the project to continue, ongoing funding is needed. 

As little as $10 a month can make a significant contribution to supporting the training of Outgrower farmers and help them become successful entrepreneurs. Donations can be made  online at danaasia.org/become-an-investor. All donations are tax deductible. 

Anyone interested in learning more about Dana Asia’s work in Cambodia is welcome to contact Dana Asia’s chief executive officer Duncan Power at duncan@danaasia.org or on 0419 472 802.

To discuss this project in more detail, we invite you to contact our Australian technical advisors Peter Van Den Akker on 0412 806 817 and Ian Curtis on 0428 523 664.

To see brief stories of participants in the Outgrower program in Cambodia, click here and here.