Profitable income generation has many sources. Whether it requires work in an office, trading on the market or farming land – the outcome always depends on the innovation and effort of the individual.
For Pring Leang, the sources are three small fields in Kampong Por village in Kraingyov commune of Saang district, about 40 kilometres south of Phnom Penh. Here, on a total of half a hectare of land, the 49-year-old plants garlic to sell its leaves. ‘
This, he says, brings him $5,000 per year.
“I have never feared loss of income because we have been professionally working for nearly 30 years,” he said.
The time between planting the seeds and harvesting the leaves is about 40 days, a process Leang performs three times in a given year.
“This work is not tiring because I can rest whenever I prefer,” he said.
The garlic leaf price has been volatile, going up and down depending on the number of farmers planting. However, he says he has never sees losses because his fields are well preserved and he always reserves seeds from the current crop for planting later, to avoid the necessity of spending more money by purchasing them from traders.
“It is cheap when more garlic leaf farmers plant simultaneously during harvesting time,” Leang said.
On Saturday, a day before the national election, garlic leaves were sold for 3,500 riel per kilogram, jumping from 2,500 riel two weeks ago. Leang says at a price of 3,500 riel he can make about 1 million riel ($250) from leaves planted on 0.10 hectares – one of the three small fields.
Two years ago, the price decreased to a level as low as 800 riel a kilogram, and profits were so low that some people quit planting.
Although making a small loss, Leang continued on the reserve seeds he had saved up.
He says that recently, prices have been good and during the rainy season in October, November and December, they climbed up to 10,000 riel a kilogram.
Besides selling to middlemen trading on markets in Phnom Penh, Leang also hawks seeds to farmers in his village or neighbouring villages.
While damage on the fields does occur, Leang said the worst scenario would be a maximum 30 per cent loss of the his total output for a round of planting.
Of his three children, two are married and followed his career as a garlic farmer, while his youngest daughter is in her third year as a student at a university in Phnom Penh.
“I have spent much money for my daughter studying,” he says. “If my daughter didn’t study, the money I owned today would be pretty good.”