In Cambodia, farmers have been developing their agricultural and business skills through an initiative to grow climate-smart crops. With Growing Hope Globally and in-country partner World Hope International, Rise Against Hunger has helped to pilot mushroom grow houses that increase resilience to climate change by reducing water consumption and making use of farming by-products. Project participants have received training in organic horticulture, basic business management and assistance with access to food markets.
The mushroom project has made a tangible impact on many farmers in the Kampong Cham province. Previously, these farmers had struggled to provide for their families but are now able to earn consistent incomes. Here are some of their stories.
Vorn, age 42, father of four
‘’Because of the profits in mushrooms, our family has been prospering!” Vorn shares. “I love growing mushrooms because I don’t need to wait a long time to earn money. Mushrooms have made my family happy!”
Prior to starting his mushroom house, Vorn’s family worked as laborers cutting wood. They earned a small income from a rice paddy and cassava farming but struggled to make ends meet. Vorn now has four mushroom houses, and the business has dramatically improved the family’s livelihood. They can now afford to drill a well on their own land, send their boys to school, pay off their mortgage and even purchase a truck. His family situation continues to improve, and he plans to buy more land to grow crops and generate even greater income. He wants to see his boys stay in school for a brighter future.
Ouk, age 38, father of two
Debt is a common problem in Cambodia. There are many microfinance companies, and a lack of regulation leads to individuals borrowing beyond their means. Ouk invested a significant amount of money in his businesses, including by borrowing funds to rent a truck at a high interest rate.
His brother then told Ouk about the opportunity to grow mushrooms. He started his first mushroom house in 2016, and now has four. With his income he is able to pay back the loan for the trucking business.
‘’Growing mushrooms is a way to get out of my debt,” Ouk shares. “I am happy having my four mushroom houses and I’m looking to extend into more mushroom production.”
Tol, age 35, father of one
“Before I started growing mushrooms, my only source of income was from raising pigs on my mother’s land,” Tol shares. “This business did not go well. I was not even able to pay back the loan I took to start raising pigs. I don’t own any land or any rice fields.”
He adds, “I saw my brother was growing mushrooms. Production was going well and he was able to add more mushroom houses in a short period of time. In 2017 I started my first mushroom house. I like that I can earn quick money every 30 days. I stopped raising pigs. The money I have earned from growing mushrooms also helped me to pay back my loan. In August 2018, I started another mushroom house. I dream of having my own land and extending into more mushroom houses.”
Theoun, age 38, father of three
In rural Cambodia, parents are often faced with the challenge of earning enough income to send their children to school.
Theoun shares, “Before growing mushrooms, I had one hectare of land to grow rice. Our family was completely dependent on that land and some extra work from manual labor. My family condition did not improve until I started to grow mushrooms.“
He adds, “In 2016 I started my first mushroom house, and later that year I started a second one. My family situation has much improved and I can keep sending my kids to school. Having my own well, I can now upgrade my house and improve our living conditions. I have a dream to buy more land and I want to see my three girls have a better education and a much brighter future.”
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