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Chey Siyat works in the paddy fields in Kampot province
Chey Siyat works in the paddy fields in Kampot province. LEONARD REVES

Travel journal gives a voice to Cambodian rural issues

A Cambodian farmer was among eight women from rural areas across Asia who last week shared their views with global food policy-makers.

The Travelling Journal project, led by a coalition of NGOs, was presented to international leaders at the 40th edition of the Committee on World Food Security, which ran between October 7 and 11 in Rome.

Chey Siyat, 56, was one of the women to record her anxieties. A 56-year-old farmer from Kampot and a widowed mother with five children, Siyat reported that climate change had become a “challenge for women farmers, resulting in low crop yields, which means less income and ultimately migration for women to look for ‘greener pastures’”.

Female leaders from the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and China also shared their stories in the journal.

The womens’ concerns consisted of the loss of native land due to land and resource grabbing, pollution of the environment and food sources by toxic chemicals, and decreasing incomes of rural families, due to the rising costs of seeds and inputs.

The project was organised by the Asian Rural Women’s Coalition (ARWC), Pesticide Action Network Asia & the Pacific (PAN AP), and Oxfam’s East Asia GROW Campaign.

Sarojeni Rengam, executive director of PAN AP and a steering committee member of the ARWC, said: “The journal comes at a time when Asian rural women are increasingly marginalised and food is insecure, facing the onslaught of corporate agriculture and neo-liberal policies which benefit a few corporations, countries, and elites.

“The impact of these policies has caused the loss of livelihoods, destruction of the ecosystem and increased hunger and malnutrition.

“But women are confronting these challenges with strong determination for change, and providing solutions that protect their rights and safeguard their livelihoods, environment and their communities.”

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