Rice Banks: An Invaluable Resource for Many Rural Cambodians

CWS Cambodia | November 28, 2018

Proeung Moeuk and his siblings benefit from their village’s rice bank. Photo: CWS

Proeung Moeuk, who is 17, lives with his four siblings, who are 21, 14, 12 and 7, in Boeng Popoul village in Battambang province of western Cambodia. Tragically, they are orphans because their parents both died of illnesses in 2014 and 2016. While his two younger sisters and brother attend primary school, Moeuk quit school to take care of them while their older brother, Proeung Se, left home to work as a wage laborer on the Cambodian-Thai border, so he can send money – about $65 each month – to support them, too. But, this amount of money is usually not enough; so, the children often borrow money from their neighbor to buy food, especially rice, which is the core of their diet.

When, a few months ago, CWS partner – Association for Development and Our Villager’s Right (ADOVIR) – started working in partnership with Village Development Committee of Boeng Popoul to identify people facing extreme vulnerability – and ways to help them cope – the first priority need cited was for a rice bank because many people, not just Moeuk and his siblings, face a shortage during the annual planting season. With ADOVIR’s community engagement, CWS was able to support the start-up of two rice banks with 51 members between them. Now, everyone is really happy that Moeuk’s family is one member benefiting from the bank, which they can repay in cash since they do not plant and harvest their own rice.

When CWS staff saw Moeuk this month, he told us that he uses the bank during the three-month shortage period, so his sisters and younger brother have something to eat. He also said, “I am so very happy and grateful for the rice bank, so I do not worry so much, and I can go out to work, too, to help ease my older brother’s burden. Thank you so much for the support.” Echoing Moeuk’s gratitude, Lao Phalla, a rice bank committee head, said, “Thank you so much for supporting the right to food for the people in my village. The rice bank has significant impact for poor families who can borrow rice during the several months’ shortage each year [when their own stocks are gone] before harvest season” [after which they can repay the rice bank in-kind and with a very reasonable interest rate of added rice, or cash].

(For more information please contact MSophal@cwsglobal.org )

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