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Farmer Poverty Reduction Reviewed

Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and other government offices met Thursday to discuss the progress of an Asian Development Bank grant aimed at raising Cambodian farmers out of poverty.

The Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, a $1.8 million, five-year program financed by the Japanese government, seeks to give farmers more access to technology, infrastructure and other agricultural resources.

The program targeted impoverished farmers in five provinces in southern Cambodia.

Farmers from 14,200 families have seen changes in their living conditions thanks to the program, said Yong San Koma, president of the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

"Among those families, about 80 percent earned from 1.4 million riel per year to 2.6 million riel per year," he said.

Farmers earned money by producing rice, raising chickens, pigs and vegetables for sale in local markets and joining community savings programs.

Thursday's workshop was a discussion of the results of the program, where district authorities "learned a lot," Yong San Koma said, because they were shown surprising ways that farmers increased their livelihood.

The government now has a strategy to work with farmers to help them bring their goods to market, Yong San Koma said. The money they earned is recycled into the community, he said. Such earnings will reduce the government's dependence on donor countries.

The organization is planning courses for the younger generation of farmers to pass on their knowledge to others, he said.