It’s a hot sunny day in south-west Cambodia. In the middle a of rice paddy field, Tea Sarim, a 57 year old farmer, is teaching cultivation techniques to ten other women farmers. The smiles on their faces is a testimony to how interested they are in learning “System of Rice Intensification” (SRI) techniques. They’ve heard about it, heard they can increase yield and lighten their workload.
Tea Sarim is a Krou Kasekor, a farmers’ trainer. A farmer herself, she knows to adapt her training to her audience: “The women farmers in my village are poor. Most of them did not go to school. They cannot read and write. If I want to teach them complicated skills, I have to simplify the approach I use.”
Cambodian rural women farmers do a lot of intensive tasks to support their families. They start their day at dawn and work until dusk to make sure that their families have enough to eat. Agriculture is central to their livelihoods, but they have to face many challenges, including traditional gender biases, that make it harder for women to obtain credit or obtain land ownership for instance.
“Each time when I meet with the women farmers I’m training, they share their burdens and talk about issues related to their cultivation as well as the challenges that they face for generating income for the families.”
Sarim has adopted SRI 5 years ago and it has helped her turn her life around. With conventional farming techniques, she could feed herself, her four children, and her parents for ten months of the year. “With the rice that I am producing now from the same land, with less input, I can feed twenty people in my family, including my grandchildren!” The yield is enough to feed the family and sell the surplus, providing an additional income.
Convinced by this practice, Sarim wanted to help women farmers in neighboring villages to move from poverty to prosperity. Although it takes time to gain the skills, women are quick learners, Sarim says. “Women can absorb the SRI ideas faster than men because they pay careful attention. Men do not always want to learn because they think they already know how to do farming well. And also, it is hard for them to come and listen to women’s stories” she says laughing.
What Sarim and other Krou Kasekors are doing here, with the support of Oxfam, local NGOs and local government goes further than improving farmer’s livelihoods.
Sarim puts a lot of her efforts into helping women farmers to be community leaders, village chiefs, or farming leaders within their family. The results obtained through SRI have changed the way women are seen; they are now recognized as smart and have learned how to be leaders.
Photo: Savann Oeurm/Oxfam
Find our more!
Do you want to know more about our work? Stay in touch with us here: https://act.oxfam.org/international/tell-me-more