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

  • PM: All 10 Asean countries to receive Rainsy arrest warrants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday that all 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member states will receive warrants for the arrest of Sam Rainsy. The warrants have already been sent to Laos and Thailand. He was speaking at a joint press conference at

  • Human rights report biased, says Cambodia

    Cambodia has accused the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland on Wednesday of having “undermined the principle of objectivity”. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the UN said the Office of the

  • Kingdom okays 2,400MW power purchase from Laos

    A cabinet meeting on Wednesday decided that the government will purchase 2,400MW of electricity from Laos. A briefing document uploaded by government spokesman Phay Siphan to his Facebook page confirmed this. It said Cambodia will buy exclusive power from two coal-fired power plants in Laos –

  • The need to establish research universities in Cambodia

    In an era of the globalisation and internationalisation of higher education, it is difficult, if not impossible, to disregard the regional and global trend toward building world-class universities. Many governments in Asia and Africa are making significant efforts to establish research-intensive universities to catch up