A group of women are hunched over a pile of small pineapple plants. They move across the long, narrow field, planting the saplings in the ploughed grooves. Within 15 minutes, the small team of four women have completed three rows, planting about 600 plants.
“Today, they will plant 7,000 plants,” says Soeun Sim, the owner of this small plantation, who is working alongside her fellow farmers.
“It’s hard work,” says Kem Ty, 35, one of the planters. She will receive 15,000 riel for her efforts today.
The women always work as a team. Today, Lert Lon, 40, and Chim Sophoan, 30, are working for Soeun Sim, 48, but on other days their roles will be reversed. Only Kem Ty doesn’t have her own plantation.
“I want to have a plantation too,” she says. “But I don’t have enough money.”
Traditionally, Battambang is noted for its oranges – but not in the villages of Prey Prom I and II, where more than 400 families have been growing pineapples for about 10 years.
“Oranges are not very good here,” says Kem Ty says. “We grew them for one or two years, but they started to die. The soil here is not good for growing oranges.”
Planting season is from March until the heavy rains begin. The pineapples are then harvested in January or February the following year. In between, the villagers grow rice.
“Last year was very good. I could sell the fruit from my plantation for three million riel,” Soeun Sim says. “But right now, the price of pineapples has become cheaper.
“There are a lot of other fruits, like watermelon and mango, so the price has dropped.”
INTERPRETER: RANN REUY