Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Food project targets women

Food project targets women

A woman harvests vegetables on a farm on the outskirts of Phnom Penh last month. A new project is aiming to educate women in agricultural and environmental-friendly practices to increase their crop yields.
A woman harvests vegetables on a farm on the outskirts of Phnom Penh last month. A new project is aiming to educate women in agricultural and environmental-friendly practices to increase their crop yields. Pha Lina

Food project targets women

USAID is spending $1 million on a project the aim of which will improve nutrition across four provinces by training women in farming practices that have higher yields, produce more nutrient-rich vegetables and require less resources.

The Women in Agriculture Network Cambodia project – covering Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat and Kampong Thom – will also help boost women’s participation in local and regional markets in order to raise household incomes.

Women in the Kingdom are expected to raise a family while also farming, said project leader Rick Bates, a horticulture professor at Penn State University,

“That’s why it also makes sense to work with women and to help them adopt technologies that are going to make their jobs easier,” he said.

A research component of the project would help understanding of women’s role in the country’s agriculture, said US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman.

It “complements other US government-funded programs in the agriculture sector to find ways to break down the barriers that women face”, he said.

The project is in its early stages, and involves researchers from various universities, who are due to begin work over the course of 2016, and local NGOs.

The training component would see women learn about sustainable practices, like the trickle irrigation system, which drips water only in the area surrounding the plant to stop excess water use, Bates said.

If the women mainly grew seasonal rice, they would learn about which other vegetables are in demand during the course of the year and when they should be grown to best utilise their land year-round.

Participants would also learn about vegetables that are nutrient-dense so they could also use them to improve nutrition in their home, Bates said.

Nearly half or half of the population in the four provinces were found to be under acute food insecurity, according to a 2015 Council for Agriculture and Rural Development report.

Cambodia was among the countries in Southeast Asia where people consumed the least vegetables, said Stuart Brown, from the World Vegetable Center, which will provide nutrition training as part of the project.

“The goal is to have an impact over the long period to reduce stunted children and to introduce households to vegetables and nutrition,” he said.

But nutrition expert Dr Frank Wieringa said encouraging women to grow vegetables wasn’t enough. “It’s not really about growing them, it’s about cooking them,” he said.

Women also needed more time to prepare meals and better diets that included meats, such as fish and chicken, Wieringa said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the