Chann Sim, who is 61, lives with his wife Ek Mon, who is 55, and their three children in Choam Ksant village in northern Cambodia. Sim owns one-third acre of land for the family’s house and home gardening and another 2.5 acres where Sim plans rice once each year, which is all that’s possible because of chronic drought. In the past, he has used traditional, labor intensive methods and poor local seedlings that, unfortunately, did not produce enough food for his family. Often the rice harvested would only last six months. So, to make up for the food shortage Sim would go to the forest to collect wild fruit, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and wild cassava – even though this was risky because of lingering landmines from decades ago. To meet his family’s food needs, Sim would earn extra income as a wage laborer planting others’ cassava.
Some years ago, when CWS had the opportunity to help families in his village to improve their lives, Sim joined the food security project as a Household Partner. He received some vegetable seeds and farming tools and, importantly, learned well about vegetable-growing adapted to climate change and about chicken- and catfish-raising and mushroom growing. Through the years Sim has taken a lot of initiative to learn how to improve his farm. Using his new knowledge and changed farming practice, and with material help from CWS, Sim has turned his family’s life around. In addition to fish and poultry, Sim has expanded his home garden to include several kinds of gourds, chili, eggplant, long bean, papaya, cucumber and banana. Now, with help from his wife and grown daughters, he earns just a bit more than $1,000 in a year, and he has enough to feed his family from his own farm.
Sim is now sharing his knowledge and experiences related to farming management with others in his village. He recently said, “I am so thankful to CWS for the support; I have gained new knowledge and skills in diversified agriculture and I have been able to increase my production. I am confident to work on my farm; and I am glad I do not have so sell my labor. Ownership is better than working for others for a daily wage!”