Source: written and published by Australia’s National Poultry Newspaper www.poultrynews.com.au (July 2020).
CAMBODIA is a country facing the numerous challenges of a developing nation. Many of its 11 million rural-based citizens are farmers living in extreme poverty due to rampant corruption, limited education and inadequate resources to improve and modernise farming techniques.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, Cambodia’s tourist industry has taken a huge hit. Siem Reap in particular, home to world-famous Angkor Wat, is a town that relies on tourism, and with restaurants and hotels forced to close, countless local people face unemployment. Most of those working in the tourism industry have families in rural communities who rely on their income to survive, with those families now falling deeper into poverty. With so many people desperate to earn a living in order to survive, now more than ever is the need for alternative income streams.
Australian-registered non-governmental organisation Dana Asia is acting to make a difference, using poultry rearing as an income stream opportunity through a network of small out-grower farms.
Farmers receive training in poultry rearing from hatch to slaughter and are equipped with the skills, resources and support to launch their own small poultry businesses from their backyards. Training and supervision of the project is overseen by poultry experts Ian Curtis and Peter van den Akker, both from South Australia, to ensure best practice at international standards.
The project funds the initial capital for construction of the biosecure shed and consumables, and the five-day old vaccinated chicks are purchased with a microfinance loan, which is paid back at the point of sale of mature chickens. Raising and selling chickens gives rural families a regular source of income, as well as new skills and an all-important supply of protein in their diets.
Sustainability is built into the project with sheds constructed using local resources and labour, as well as specially designed double roofs to maintain environmental efficiency and encourage optimum productivity.
Unique solar panels designed in South Australia provide clean e-coli-free drinking water and electricity for chicks and pens.
The first pilot out-growers on the program were Lorm Salat and her husband, Chor. Due to an accident on a construction site, Chor is in a wheelchair and unable to work, so Salat takes a leading role in earning income. Salat had to drop out of school after Grade 2 to help provide for her family and went to work at the Siem Reap dumpsite – very dirty and dangerous work for a young child. Chor and Salat have two children and their family income was about A$170 per month, which was not enough to buy rice and send the children to school.
Salat became known to Dana Asia when she joined the team at its training farm and, in December 2018, she was identified as a suitable candidate for the Outgrower program. A specifically designed shed was built on their land, so Chor could help take care of the chickens despite his disability.
Additional income from the Outgrower program means Salat can afford to send her children to school and provide for her family. Salat and Chor are achieving a remarkable 98 percent survival rate to point of slaughter. The most in-need families can enjoy a potential 70 percent increase in their household income.
For a family living in poverty, this additional income is substantial – it could be the difference between a child going to school or not, and a family being able to buy medicine for their sick children or not.
This phase of the Outgrower project is in its early stages of expansion and urgently needs funding to be able to reach more rural villagers and provide them with highly sought-after native chickens.
To build one shed costs A$3,500.
However, as little as A$10 a month can make a significant contribution to supporting the training of each out-grower farmer, so they can professionally manage their broiler chickens and become successful entrepreneurs.