Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

A woman carries rice seedlings though a paddy in Kandal province. Yesterday Phnom Penh hosted the Kingdom’s first ever conference for a national network of women farmers. Aim Valinda
A woman carries rice seedlings though a paddy in Kandal province. Yesterday Phnom Penh hosted the Kingdom’s first ever conference for a national network of women farmers. Aim Valinda

Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

A national network of women farmers was established in the capital yesterday in the hopes of amplifying the voices of the Kingdom’s primarily female agricultural labour force amid a male-dominated policymaking environment.

Some 100 “women-farmer champions” met in Phnom Penh at a conference organised by Oxfam and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The women selected 48 national champions – two from each province – to represent the interests of agricultural stakeholders at the national level.

Women represent 75 per cent of the agricultural labour force but hold only 20 per cent of government positions in agricultural policymaking, said Oxfam policy adviser Kaneka Keo.

“Women farmers have done a lot of good – we need to give them a platform to have a chance to talk,” she said.

Cambodia’s women farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change, according to several international bodies.

This, compounded with the lower literacy rates among female farmers, impairs their ability to take out small loans, plan crops to market demand and access information on climate-change adaptation, said Keo.

Siem Reap province champion Seak Kaliyann, who heads a cooperative of 100 farmers, said yesterday that beyond the challenge of a lack of market access, the past two years of drought have dried up income. She is able to produce only enough to feed her family, though she could previously make $250 per year selling produce.

Keo said that accessing micro-finance loans was a “complicated process”, sending women to same-day moneylenders with higher interest rates, which pushes farmers into debt, which in turn drives the migration of men to seek work further afield, like in Thailand.

Leam Sangim, a champion from Preah Vihear, said that because of the drought, 15 people had left her Kulen district village last year.

At yesterday’s conference, Mom Thany, deputy chair of the MAFF’s gender and children working group, acknowledged the lack of representation for women.

“It’s slow; it needs to improve, and it’s not just MAFF – it’s every ministry,” she said, highlighting the government’s Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Strategic Framework in Agriculture 2016-2020.

The framework, adopted last October, seeks to increase women’s economic empowerment and representation in the agricultural sector. One example would be to have more female “extension trainers” – ministry workers who teach farming techniques and strategies for climate-change adaptation.

The role of the network created yesterday, Oxfam’s Keo said, would include holding MAFF accountable in the implementation of such policies.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Rise in planned flights lifts travel hopes

    Six airlines have applied to resume flights in December, while two others have put in for additional flights and routes, according to State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) head Mao Havannall on November 29. These account for 43 new weekly domestic and international flights in December, up 16

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Hun Sen: Manet to be candidate for prime minister

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed that his oldest son Hun Manet will be his successor as Prime Minister if he is elected. Speaking during the inauguration of a new sewage treatment facility in Preah Sihanouk province on December 2, Hun Sen said Manet will be