NGO Forum Celebration on the 109th International Women’s Day under the theme “Peace Promotes Gender Equality”

The NGO Forum staff was divided into two groups to visit Agriculture Cooperative in Sen Sok Toek Tla, especially the vegetable planting in the greenhouse and fish raising in the pond. They used only organic fertilizer from bio-mas. The greenhouse was constructed which contributed by the provincial agriculture department. The total cost of greenhouse construction about $1,800. The member contributed only $620. It was 24 meters long and 8 meters wide. It just piloted in the first year which introduced by Lors Thmey organization and provided technical skills to AC members. The pond was made by AC members about 8 meters deep and fish raising in the pond provided by the Lors Thmey organization. They borrowed credit from the community saving for vegetable planting and fish raising in the pond. Vegetable production in Toek Thla Sen Sok village is the most important activity for income generation and improving the livelihood of the community members. Toek Thla Sen Sok agriculture products cooperative engagement with non-formal contracting with its member and supply to Lors Thmey organization eg. 1 kilogram of a bitter million costs 1300 riels. The exposure visit study focused on members’ households of agriculture cooperative economic status and profits of vegetable growing and animal raising as family daily income.

Mr. Farit introduced the meeting with the community which contacted by Farmer Nature Net as a member of the Network for Development Food Security and Safety in Cambodia.

Dr. Tek Vannara, Executive Director of the NGO Forum on Cambodia informed that NGO Forum has 96 membership organizations, 8 networks, and more than 400 network members. This exposure visit initiated by Network for Development Food Security and Safety in Cambodia. NGO Forum has organized the National Farmer Forum which raised farmer concern related to water, capital and market to relevant policymakers, development partners and private sectors.
The purpose of this visit to celebrating the 109th anniversary of International Women’s Day, International Women’s Day 2020 theme “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”, the key message in the run-up to celebrating the 109th anniversary of International Women’s Day in Cambodia theme “Peace Promotes Gender Equality”. We want to learn from the agriculture cooperative of Sen Sok Toek Tla on how to develop the family economy, happiness within the family and wellbeing of the whole community. Women are defined in the United Nations Development Goal. Takeo province in the history of Cambodia calls Phonan which located in Da mountain in Angkor Borey district that paid high respect for princess call Livyi or Soma.

Mr. Ouk Vannara informed about SDG and women. The royal government of Cambodia such as MoWA promotes women’s rights and develops many policies such as Neary Ratank in stage 4 and planning to develop Neary Ratank stage 5 in the coming year. The CEDAW. The UN SDG goal number 5 stated clearly about Gender. Gender mainstreaming in many government institutions. As raise by the community, women manage the money for the family and responsible for the economy of the family. To promote the family economy is the key strategy of the NGO Forum as well as mainstreaming gender in NDF-C. 100 Female farmer Champions were selected in the national farmer forum.

Mr. Hok Menghoin added the economic empowerment of women to have the capacity to adapting to climate change. Women have the opportunity to job opportunity and health, capacity to invest in multi-purpose farming, rights to access capital, water and market and income generation. We plan to organize the sub-national farmer forum in Takeo province.

Mr. Vong Kosal mentioned the relationship between gender and land management. Gender was promoted through land registration. Women have legal rights in land registration with their husbands by the attached marital certificate. In the case of land conflict, it will affect their family income while women losing their land.

Mr. Nan Ony added that article 31 of the Cambodian constitution stated clearly about women’s rights. In the first and second world wars women faced many issues.

The deputy chief of agriculture cooperative of Sen Sok Toek Tla presented that this AC was established on 07 December 2008. There were 17 members joined AC in the beginning. There are 7 management committee members in AC, 3 of them are women. It was technically supported by the CGA organization and provincial agriculture departments in Takeo province. They raised awareness among community members for saving money within the community. So far there are more than 800 members and they able to save the amount of $500,000. The interest rate from 1.8% to 1.9%. Each member saves about $50. The benefit was shared with a member every month. The women collect saving from members and close accounts every day. The chief of the committee and accountant have the right to withdraw the money and type it on the computer. If they collect more saving then they keep it in the bank.

In the case of widow borrowed and unable to pay back then the only collect the saving but not the interest. The AC contributes the fund for infrastructure development, cultural center, funeral ceremony of the member or red cross.

The second activity of AC is supplying animal food, fertilizer and rice seeds to the community.

The key successes were highlighted of AC since established in the following:
AC having saving members more than 800. Total saving $500,000. Having enough money in case members want to withdraw their savings or borrow it. Transparent and accountable for their saving.
The challenge faced when a member cannot pay back after borrowing.

They want to see the AC continue to grow bigger and members have a stronger capacity in marketing their agriculture products.
At the end of the meeting, Dr. Tek Vannara handed over the certificate of appreciation to Toek Tla Sensok AC and contributed $30 for AC operation.

The discussion with AC was very good and NGO Forum staff able to learn a lot from the exposure visit as stated in the following:
The agriculture sector plays the most important role in the promotion of economic growth, poverty reduction, and stabilize social livelihoods, particularly for food security. In recent years, the demands of vegetable products keep increasing very rapidly. The reason is because of population growth which positively increases the demand.

Generally, after harvesting rice in November, they are available for used their land for cucumber, bitter melon, long bean growing till June. The majority of their income sources are derived from non-farming income and livestock income. There were significant differences in the mean gross incomes between AC members.

In term of market access, there was no difference between AC members, but in term of agriculture input access and techniques, AC members had higher participation because they had participated in training and had also shared their experiences about the long bean, cucumber and bitter melon production with each other during field demonstrations.

Most AC members used plastics mulching to cover the row of long bean, cucumber, and bitter melon. Plastics mulching saves more labor forces for weeding in the field, keep moisture for a long day in the soil is resistant with high temperature and slightly flood in rainy season as well.

The labor in the household is important to assist their family with vegetable production growing in terms of income generation. Source of household income and expense: income profile according to the discussion result, each household besides long bean, cucumber, and bitter melon income, the non- farm activities and livestock sale play an important role in their families.

The AC members on average have higher incomes from off-farm activities and livestock selling which suggests that they are more oriented toward profitable.

The provision of agriculture input or credit to members is a good model that helps members to easy access and it proved more confidential between AC as contractor and AC members.

Market information access, source of market information plays an important role in helping farmers to make the right decision in selling their products with suitable price depending on market need and to avoid fluctuate price by market vendors. AC members have more bargain power to traders with high prices through none formal contract farming between AC and its members.

Similarly, AC members do not only have more opportunities to receive the training course from AC, but they also are able to engage in receiving more supports. AC provides seed, fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticide on credit, assist in transportation, equipment, and cash on loan with a low percentage of interest respectively. Maybe because of the fact that AC members have received some supports from the AC committee such as inputs with low prices, training courses, price guaranteed and so on.

Growing long bean, cucumber, and bitter melon in terms of market demand. The market is the most important factor to enhance farmers for growing crops, especially vegetables.

Overall, the general benefits of farmers who had participated with Teok Tla Sen Sok Agriculture Cooperative products are that they gain more technical support on how to cultivate vegetables with proper techniques. It also provides the convenience to farmers for accessing agricultural input needed near their homes which is really useful for smallholder farmers in the rural area growing vegetables in terms of market demand at a suitable price.

We wish Teok Tla Sen Sok Agriculture Cooperative to gain fruitful profit from agriculture products through saving and grow bigger in the future with sustainable community development in Sen Sok village, Tropang Krosang commune, Baty district, Takeo province.