Farm­ers hail ben­e­fits of Chi­nese com­pany’s agri­cul­ture project

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SIEM REAP, Cam­bo­dia — As the big­gest for­eign in­vestor in Cam­bo­dia, China co­op­er­ates on ev­ery­thing from the high-tech tele­com net­work con­struc­tion to mod­ern agri­cul­tural tech­niques.

Now, Run Ta Ek, a pilot eco-vil­lage in Cam­bo­dia’s north­west­ern Siem Reap prov­ince, is ben­e­fit­ing from an ini­tia­tive to al­le­vi­ate poverty.

Founded in 2004, the 1,012-hectare project can ac­com­mo­date around 850 fam­i­lies. Most vil­lagers did not make a liv­ing by farm­ing be­fore mov­ing here.

The gov­ern­ment of­fered 20 hectares of land in the vil­lage to For­word Com­pany from south­west China’s Guangxi Zhuang au­tonomous re­gion to im­ple­ment a gar­den­ing and farm­ing project for the next 20 years.

The homes and land are free to 101 fam­i­lies who vol­un­teered to move in, said Mey Marady, di­rec­tor of the project.

The ini­tia­tive started in Oc­to­ber with 32 green­houses grow­ing veg­eta­bles and fruit, said Tho­eng Fy, as­sis­tant to Lan Tian­hao, Chair­man of For­word (Cam­bo­dia) Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Co Ltd.

Open for all

The com­pany also built a small veg­etable yard open for all vil­lagers with the main pur­pose of teach­ing agri­cul­tural tech­niques to lo­cal farm­ers, Fy said, adding that his com­pany also buy the prod­ucts from the farm­ers and ex­port them to China and other coun­tries.

“They teach us, trans­fer to us their knowl­edge, and af­ter we pro­duce veg­eta­bles and food, they will buy them back,” Marady said, point­ing out that this buy­ing-back pol­icy re­ally gives the farm­ers con­fi­dence in long term de­vel­op­ment.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate (their in­volve­ment in the project), and in Cam­bo­dia, it goes that ‘a good friend is a friend who helps us when we are in need,’ so they come when we re­ally in need,” she said.

Tith Ouch, a mother of three, counted on her hus­band who worked as a con­struc­tion worker and made $150 a month be­fore mov­ing into the vil­lage seven years ago. Now her fam­ily earns up to $450 per month.

“The in­come is not enough, but it makes our liveli­hood bet­ter if com­pared to be­fore,” said Ouch, 35.

“We’re happy to live here be­cause we can earn more money than we were at our old vil­lage.”

Agri­cul­ture is one of the four sec­tors sup­port­ing the Cam­bo­dian econ­omy and also an im­por­tant part in co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Cam­bo­dia. Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bank of Cam­bo­dia’s re­port, China in­vested $53 mil­lion in the coun­try’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor in 2016.

“China pro­vides not only agri­cul­tural the­o­ries and cap­i­tal, but also prac­ti­cal tech­niques and hu­man re­source train­ing to help sus­tain­able agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment in Cam­bo­dia,” said Lan Huiyan, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Cam­bo­dia-China Agri­cul­tural Pro­mo­tion Cen­ter.

By last month, For­word had in­tro­duced 27 crop va­ri­eties af­ter ex­per­i­ments and trained over 2,000 univer­sity stu­dents, farm­ers and agri­cul­tural pro­fes­sion­als.

“China and Cam­bo­dia are very com­pli­men­tary in agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tion. With the ad­van­tages in farm­ing and pro­cess­ing tech­niques, mar­ket­ing chan­nels, Chi­nese com­pa­nies can help Cam­bo­dia de­velop more mod­ern farms, cre­ate more jobs and sell more prod­ucts in China and other Asian coun­tries,” said Lan.

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