Demo Couple Farmer Improves their Life with Resilient Agriculture Techniques and Inspires Others
With a solid commitment to adopting resilient agriculture techniques, a couple who are occupational farmers have increased yield and improved productivity of their plants and have influenced other farmers to follow.
The couple, Mr. Lock Chanthorn, 28-year-old, and Ms. Khun Slat, 24-year-old, live with their two small sons in Trapeang Khnar village, Ta Tey Leu Commune, Koh Kong’s Thma Bang District.
They had previously experienced unpleasant results planting various fruit and vegetable crops without having skills or knowledge of agricultural techniques until they decided to register as a demonstration farmer for the “System Approach to Transformative Economic Empowerment and Resilience (STEER)” Activity in late 2019, shortly after it was announced in May.
“In the past, we used to grow cucumbers, bananas, durians, rambutans, and other vegetable crops in our 300 square meters home garden,” said Mr. Chanthorn, noting that the couple hardly harvested 500 kilograms of diverse vegetables per cycle because of the damages that were caused by pest and diseases such as downy mildew, gummy stem blight, and bacteria sprout.
With a lack of technical skills and market, Mr. Chanthorn said he could earn around 150 US$ per month and needed to work as a seasonal construction worker to support his family.
Having the opportunity to be a demonstration farmer of the STEER Activity funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) New Zealand, the couple received a range of training to build their technical skills and improve their productivity. The Activity was carried out by Save the Children in close cooperation with International Development Enterprises (iDE) and the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (PDAFF).
As a demo farmer, the couple has been invited to take part in several learning opportunities, including field visits, exchange visits, and online exposure visits to other provinces where they could acquire knowledge and receive consultation from agricultural experts when they encounter issues applying technical skills they had learned from the STEER Activity.
The couple has expressed strong interest in growing cucumbers and has expanded the garden into 4,500 square meters of farming land. Now equipped with technical skills, they can make 15 cycles of cucumber production in a year and a half, harvesting up to 52 tons of cucumbers and earning more than 800 US$ per month.
“With the high-value crops we grew, I feel delighted because I can now supply the market and generate higher income. The buyers trust us in growing healthy cucumbers with good quality,” Mr. Chanthorn said, “With smart techniques in planting, my wife and I now spend less time taking care of the vegetables, and instead, we have more time with our two sons.”
The demonstration farm of the couple has consistently inspired other farmers who are their relatives from early on in their engagement. The five families related to the couple joined the STEER Activity at a later stage earlier this year, learning about how resilient agricultural techniques could improve their productivity. In just five months, they could produce 21 cycles of cucumber production and harvest up to 73 tons with support from Mr. Chanthorn.
Mr. Chanthorn and his relatives have recently introduced the techniques they learned to other farmers in the community, hoping that they could produce healthy crops, particularly cucumbers, which are currently a high demand in the local market.