Cambodian Cattle Health & Productivity Project- A Long Term, Locally Sustainable Solution To Poverty
Cambodian Cattle Health & Productivity Project- A Long Term,
Locally Sustainable Solution To Poverty
PART I OVERVIEW
1.To improve the livelihood of individual villagers through improving the health and productivity of their
cattle, (by producing more feed for them from currently barren land).
2.To ultimately aid the Cambodian economy by reducing the need for agricultural imports,
and enabling local production of beef for International Tourists (currently imported from Thailand).
*Productivity means the production of more meat for market, milk for calves, increased fertility rates
(from the present one calf every 2-5 years to 2-3 calves every 3 years), and stronger working oxen.
The sourcing of a perennial crop that can survive both the wet and dry seasons in Cambodia, or an
annual crop that can be propagated by the villagers; which can provide a food source for the cattle
without interfering with rice production. Soil analysis to determine the soil has the necessary
composition to grow the appropriate crop, water requirements established and costing done.
The introduction of this crop into a trial village. The selected village will be readily accessible, with a
supportive local Chief and team of Project workers.
Once the crop is established, Animal Health, Husbandry and Breeding Programs will be introduced.
The details are outlined further in this document.
Initially external funding and expertise will be required but the project is to be a fully sustainable one,
with the education programs being run by Khmer Specialists involved in the project. The project will
start with one or two trial villages before being extended further. The chiefs of the Villages involved will
be educated by the Khmer Specialists who will in turn educate their villagers and so on. The aim is to
have no Western input within 5-10, depending on the nature of the crop.
WHO AM I?
I am a veterinarian who developed a passion for Cambodia whilst travelling there; I will be working from
my base in Queenstown NZ and my situation is flexible enough for me to travel to Cambodia as
required. I started as a large animal vet, mainly cattle, before travelling to England and developing my
passion for surgery in the domestic animal field. I have travelled the world extensively (largely with my
8 year old son). I am very passionate about people and feel strongly that any suggested change must
be wanted and not just imposed on others. The Western way is not always the best way; peoples’
tradition, methods and culture must be respected.
I see my role as one of initiator and co-ordinator, and if we are doing our job right, there will be no
requirement for any of us longer term.
The following project outline is in its preliminary stage of development and I would gratefully welcome
any feedback or assistance regarding this project. There is much more research yet to be done, and
input to be sought from experienced people in each area covered by the project.
WHAT IS REQUIRED NEXT-
1.An experienced horticulturist to advise on suitable crops
2 An accountant/financier to determine cost.
HOW HAS THE PROJECT BEEN DEVELOPED SO FAR
When visiting Cambodia, I had some ideas that I thought could help improve the livelihood of the rural
villages. I met up with Prum Vich from the Animal Health and Production Department in Siem Reap, to
discuss the ideas with him, unsure whether they would be of any value. Prum Vich was very excited
and set up a meeting with myself, and his boss Mr. Tat-Bun Chhoeun, upon his return from Vietnam.
On Wed 2nd of April I met with Mr. Tat-Bun Chhoeun, Director of the Department of Agriculture , Siem Reap
Province; Dr Prum Vich Chief of Animal Health and Production Office, Department of Agriculture, Siem Reap
Province; and Mr. Sim Thorath, Animal Health and Production Office, Siem Reap Province to present my ideas for
establishing a sustainable development project for the cattle owners of rural Cambodia, starting with the Siem Reap
Mr Tat-Bun Chhoeun assured me he would support the project in every possible way as he felt the proposition
would provide a long term solution to the poverty in Cambodia, particularly as 70% of the Cambodian people are
farmers (the Government objective is to increase this to 75%) and there is 96,400 ha of rural land completely
unutilized in the Siem Reap Province alone. He requested I (with the help of his staff) write a detailed proposal.
He would in turn present this to the Minister of MAFF, Siem Reap Province; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and he
would write letters of support to them on my behalf. He said he would take care of everything re immigration for
me, or anyone else helping with the project.
I spent several days with staff from the Animal Health Department visiting Villages and talking to Chiefs
through interpreters. This was to gauge what the Chiefs wanted which influenced the development of
the Project and how they felt about my ideas. They seemed very keen to make any reasonable
changes they could to improve the livelihood of their villages. The concept of fencing the cattle and
preventing them from going under the houses seemed very strange, but the interpreter felt they were
prepared to try it. One village we visited was already housing their pigs but the cattle had never been
fenced. Although there are serious public health implications (described later) of animals living under
the house, I think it is better initially to fence the crops to protect them rather than confine the cattle
from the outset.
Following each visit there was extensive discussion with the staff from the Animal Health and
Production Department in Siem Reap, to ensure the solutions proposed were workable and genuinely
sustainable. I would type up the information summary, as I understood it, and then go over each point
with the Department of Agriculture staff, and remove, add or modify text as they advised.
When I left Cambodia in May 2007 (I visited Cambodia on my way home to live in NZ, after living
abroad for 15 years), two English Volunteers working with Earthwalkers in Cambodia tried to progress
the project in my absence. One was Nathan Nelson who has project management, marketing and
website development experience; the other was Hannah Padley a new graduate veterinarian from the
UK. Despite them being very keen to put time and energy into the project, they did not have the local
support to make progress, which was disappointing.
I returned in November 2007 to see what the problem was and Prum Vich apologised for not being able
to support the Project in my absence. He was not able to spend time and resources on the project as it
did not have funding yet and other work had regretfully taken him away from it. In Cambodia, things
tend not to proceed unless there is funding available. I had not realised this was the case, thinking it
possible to develop the details of the Project first, then seek funding. Prum Vich suggested I phoned
Sen Sovann who was very experienced with NGO’s, and may be able to help. Instead, we arranged a
meeting to meet Sen in person at his office in Phnom Phen.
[Sen is a Fulbright Scholar, earning a MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Community Health from the School of
Veterinary Medicine of Louisiana State University in 1996. He has been actively been involved in various livestock-
base community developments, veterinary academic program development and teaching, as well as disease control
administration. He has also developed a national disease control program, and participated in regional animal
disease control program and grassroots animal health care. Sen has established trustworthy networks in Cambodia
in the area of rural livelihood, and small enterprise development in association and cooperation with local NGOs,
Associations, Government and International Agencies].
Although I initially found Sen very enthusiastic, his stand is that once I have the funding, he will look at
the project in detail, so the Project has come to a temporary standstill.
CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER PROJECTS
My experience in Cambodia and what I was told by many people in Cambodia, is that co-operation in
the areas of charitable work is uncommon.
I would like to co-ordinate wherever possible with concurrent projects in the area and this has to be the
most effective way forward. It makes sense to pool resources/knowledge where there is a common
goal, to achieve the desired outcomes in a more effective way, and in a shorter time.
If this Project needs to be incorporated within another large agency’s work, in part or in whole, to be
effective, I would be fully supportive of that. It would be great to still be involved, as I am very
passionate about the work.
PART II-Project Stages
1.THE PROJECT PROPOSAL SO FAR
There will be 7 major parts to the Project with several steps required for each stage. Finding the
appropriate specialists for each area of the project is key to its success
1. VILLAGE SELECTION
Using trial villages allows resources to be concentrated, protocols developed and difficulties
identified, before extending the process to a larger area. The selected village will be readily
accessible, with a supportive local Chief and team of Project workers. Hopefully neighbouring
Chiefs/farmers will see the results, which will motivate them to take on the new practices. There is
competition between the villages, which is likely to encourage this.
Two preliminary villages were selected to trial (please see appendix I). The details of these villages
are included as examples but do not need to be the trial villages we use. The villages need to have
enough free land to provide maintenance/supplementary feed without interfering with rice
production. Smaller villages may be easier to manage, all cattle can be involved thus avoiding
conflict between neighbours. It may also be easier to gain unity and co-operation within a smaller
With further reflection I don’t think the second Village (Tonlorp Village, Kokdong Commune) is
suitable as a trial. Although it is the most in need of support, it is in quite an isolated location and
not an ideal place to start.
2. DETERMINATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL VILLAGE PLAN.
a) Determine which areas of the village and which cattle are to be involved in the trial (if not all). I
think the most practical way is to take a section of the village as a block to grow the crop to
make fencing and crop management easier.
b) Measure the available free area to be planted and ensure the growth will be adequate
for the number of cows involved. At present, stocking rates are 2 cows/ha, or 3-4 cows/ha if
grass is cut for them from rice field paths and free land.
It is standard husbandry in all villages for the stock to move freely throughout the village.
Cattle, pigs and poultry sleep under the houses mobilising ammonia gases, viruses, bacteria, parasites
and dust which pose potentially serious health implications (such as respiratory disease) for the
families, particularly the children and elderly or infirm. Fencing/tethering
the cattle is important not only for the management of the crops but also for the health of the villagers;
but that may need to come in time.
c) Determine the nature of fencing required to protect the growing forage crops/grass and keep
the stock from under the house. Theft may be a problem if temporary electric fencing is tried
but it seems the cheapest, easiest and most reliable method at this stage. Fences made from
bamboo cut from the forest is a low cost solution, but they must be robust to prevent the
pushing through of hungry cattle onto growing crops. NB We must look at the impact of this on
the jungle itself before considering this option.
3. THE PROVISION OF MAINTAINANCE AND SUPPLEMENTARY FEED
a) An experienced horticultural/agricultural adviser is imperative for the project success and I have
not succeeded yet in finding someone. Suggestions for the maintenance feed so far have been
the S184 legume, and Luceana Epi-Epi (which is high protein, can be grown around the houses
and has the duality of being able to be eaten by the families and be mixed with rice straw as cattle
feed), as they thrive in dry areas. They can be planted in waste areas and on the paths between the
rice fields but they will not survive the monsoon floods, which last four months per year). Please
see Appendix II for cattle feed information from Mr. Werner Sturn.
b) Determine the cost of the seed or other agricultural products, and where to purchase them.
c) Assess soil fertility and pH.
d) Assess solutions for consistent water supply.
Why there is such a feed problem and possible solutions are outlined below:
Food shortage is a major contributing factor to the cattle problems as there is virtually no food available
between March and October of every year. The dry season is between November and May and the
Wet (Monsoon) season is between May and October. Rice is grown from June until Oct-Dec depending
on the species grown.
The low-lying land is flooded to the depth of 0.3-0.6 meters from June to September and the highest
stress period for the cattle is April-July, which causes significant disease outbreaks.
This is due to the following factors:
1. High climatic temperatures of around 37C
2. Abrupt climatic changes within a day
3. Lack of water and/or very poor quality water when the rain first comes
4. Cattle are treated severely to force them to plough the fields, as they are too weak to work well.
5. Lack of food, as the scarce local grasses are only grazable February-March. In addition, the cattle
are kept off the rice fields from June until Oct -Dec depending on the rice varieties grown.
a) The rice varieties Senpidor, IR66, RomPe and *Neng Pei take 3 months to grow and
b) The rice varieties Phka Romdul (yields the most Riel/kg), Romchhet, Romchhang, k1,
*NengNoi, *Kulein take 5 months to grow and yield approximately 1.35 T/ha
c) Rice varieties K4, K9, *NengMao, *Nenug kung take 6-9 months to grow and yield
* Local varieties
Current rice prices range from 500-1000 Riel/kg (currently $1 US= 4000 riel)
I feel it would be prudent to encourage selected villages to grow rice varieties from groups a) and b) as
the land will be freed up sooner, they will get more money/kg for their rice, and will not have concerns
regarding inadequate rain affecting the crop. This is also one of the Governments aims but there is
resistance due to the increased difficulty in harvesting the rice crops in the water, as it is physically
more difficult. The advantages however are a crop every year and enough rice grown for food.
The project must not compromise rice production, which is a long established form of income.
Supplementary Feed Options
The supplementary foods I have seen given are as follows, there may be other sources:
1. Rice straw and rice bran is given in almost every village; the rice straw has little nutritional value but
the rice bran is highly digestible, providing it is fresh. The rice straw is stored in open stacks so what
little nutritional value present, will be more readily leached by weathering. Covering of stacks to prevent
nutrients from the damaging effects of water and sun is a simple, yet helpful step.
2. Banana flowers/leaves are sometimes given in wealthier villages. Not all villages have access to
these, they are a human food, and sell for a good price at market.
3. Bamboo leaves-mixed with other supplementary feed
4. Forage from the jungle-significance to the jungle ecologically?
5. Forage of grasses from along the rice field paths or free land.
4. and 5. are done at a significant cost in time and labour to the villagers. The food source is often a
long distance away from the villages and most of the families who feed 3-4 cattle need 1-2 people a day
to collect the feed. This still provides inadequate feed but keeps children out of school affecting their
education and opportunities; keeps adults from the rice fields and prevents the opportunity for other
Supplementary feeding is done between May and July and is less practiced in the poorer areas and
where the oxen are not used for field work (when the oxen are used for work, the farmers realise the
importance of the cattle health to their livelihood). Supplementary feed is imperative for the
improvement of cattle health and productivity, we just need to find the most practical, energy and cost
efficient feed available. Initially it may need to be provided but at a later date, grown.
4. ANIMAL HEALTH/VETERINARY CARE
Provide anthelmintics at regular intervals to be administered by Veterinary staff to ensure uniformity
initially, and carry out any disease prevention/treatment/vaccination that is considered essential.
Mann Sokhum is the Angkor Chum District MAFF Veterinarian working with the selected villages
could be a significant adviser and coordinator. I have not met him myself.
(Dr.Vich and Dr Sokhum were/are going to fax or email me information on endemic parasites and
diseases, their relevance, if any treatment/vaccinations are given routinely or otherwise (if so, what is
given and by whom), and any associated Government schemes. We also need to know if they consider
any routine vaccinations or treatment to be essential for villagers’ or animal health.
Please see below for the current Veterinary Situation in Cambodia
From 1995-2007, International Organisations such as CARERE, VNU, FAO, ADRA, PADEK, AHBY and
ADESS, worked in co-operation with the Cambodian Government to set up an animal health care
system, so each village would have its own village veterinarian. Each trainee had 25 days of teaching
followed by 3 months of follow up in the field. The scheme was very successful, resulting in about 1080
veterinarians being trained in the Siem Reap Province consisting of 12 Districts and 915 villages (875 of
which are officially acknowledged by the Government). They were taught things such as clinical signs,
treatments, injection techniques, dosage calculations and charging.
There are several difficulties facing the village veterinarians. These include the following:-
a) They are private veterinarians working for a population with extremely limited resources.
b) They are poorly equipped. They have thermometers, syringes, antibiotic and vitamins but no
stethoscopes, mouth gags, stomach tubes, lab facilities (except where the Provincial and
Department Veterinarian is involved with managing diseases outbreaks of Haemorrhagic
Septicaemia and Foot and Mouth disease), and rectal examination is an unacceptable practice.
c) There is no nearby pharmacy for the remote Provincial vets to obtain and store vaccines,
antibiotics and other treatments, therefore they tend not to carry or use these products much.
Many farmers are interested in vaccination as they have seen its success in earlier trials, but
they are not often provided even if requested. The problems are storage; access, and one
vaccine bottle may be sufficient for many animals when they only have one animal to vaccinate
on each occasion.
d) Additional training and refresher training is required.
5. SETTING UP OF DISTRICT PHARMACIES OR VETERINARY GROUPS
This will enable the appropriate storage of Veterinary supplies. At present there is no means for
stock to stored, supplied as and when required, and with a rapid enough turnover to ensure usage
before expiration dates. Apparently many farmers are keen to vaccinate but 1 vial may contain
more vaccination doses than they require, there is not normally facilities to appropriately store the
vaccines and it is expensive for the individual veterinarians to have vaccine in stock.
6. EDUCATION PROGRAM
This would include the following areas:
a) Feed management, including the use of manure. I believe it is important to do everything
organically, where possible, to make the educational program future proof. Feed management will
include the care, cultivation and the taking of cuttings for cost effective propagation.
b) Management of stocking rates including the selling of stock to purchase supplementary feed in
poor growing years, and the selling of chronically sick or old animals so feed resources are
c) Parasite and disease control
This will be done by a combination of Project workers, local veterinarians and Village chiefs
7. BREED IMPROVEMENT
There are 3 main breeds of cattle in Cambodia and they are as follows:
1. Khmer Breed-This is a small local brown breed of cow predominately found in the highlands
where they roam free. As the males are not castrated there is a lot of inbreeding, which has
resulted in small cattle susceptible to disease, and prone to miscarriages. They are not used for
work and adults at market will reach
2. Hyayana/ Khmer cross-bred cattle-This is the predominant breed in most low lying villages.
They are used to pull ploughs, carts and sold at later ages for meat. They sell for
$400-500/head when young and healthy and $200-350/head for meat.
3. Hyayana Breed-These are large, strong breeds of cattle used for work and are owned by
wealthier farmers near the Mekong River; their maintenance requirements are higher than the
other breeds. Young, healthy cows sell for about $1000 and the bulls for $3000. At the age of
10 years (cows) and 12 years (steers), they are sold as meat for $350-500/head.
This is important if Cambodia is to produce beef for tourist consumption instead of importing it. Any
changes need to be done in an informed and timely manner. The breeding component of the
Project is as follows:
a) To phase out the Khmer Breed (this is also a Government aim) in the Highlands by routine
castration of the local breed and the introduction of Khymer/Hyayana cross bulls to increase the
market value and versatility of the Highland farmers’ cattle. The local mountain breeds are small,
non-productive, not suitable as work oxen, and therefore less desirable.
b) To phase in more Hyayana crossed cattle into the lowland area after, perhaps, three years. The
Hyayana bull is ideal as they are very strong working oxen, produce a lot of beef, and as they occur
naturally in Cambodia we know they are adapted to the climate. I feel the import of foreign gene
pools would be undesirable as they are expensive and adapted to different climates, bringing new
problems. For example, Friesian cattle have huge requirements for high quality feed, and their feet
are very susceptible to infections and damage in wet conditions.
Artificial Insemination would be expensive and poorly accepted by the villagers at this stage, as
rectal examinations are not carried out at all. The most cost effective way of introducing a Hyayana
bull may be if the bull was used for many villages and transport/rotation was organized by the
Department of Animal Health and Production.
Successfully increasing the percentage of Hyayana in the cattle would only be feasible providing
the following criteria were met:
• There was a well-established system of maintenance feed, supplementary feed and sufficient
water in the village to meet the higher requirements of larger cattle.
• The village cows were in good health and body condition to increase conception rates; and so
her condition would not suffer during pregnancy, calving and lactation.
• The bull would only be put across healthy, larger boned cows that had already had (say) 2
calves. This would hopefully avoid calving difficulties that can occur with crossing cows with a
larger breed bull. (Management would likely require electric fencing or tethering of the bull and
he would need to stay long enough to mate with several cows as they would not be fertile at the
same time. Theft is a possible concern).
7. DETERMINATION OF EXPENSES AND THE GAINING OF FUNDING/SPONSORSHIP
a) Determine a budget for the project including all consumables, salaries/necessary expenses for
experts, local veterinarians and Provincial Department of Agriculture staff. Salaries are very low in
Cambodia with the average being $45/month. The local people will have significant increase in
workload, most likely running concurrently with their present responsibilities.
b) A website needs to be developed to increase awareness and marketing for the Project, and keep
interested parties informed.
c) Gain sponsorship for all areas of the project
PART III APPENDIX
Appendix 1 The Trial Villages
The preliminary two Villages selected for trial are both in the Angkor Chum District, Siem Reap
Province, Cambodia. They have a lot of free land and were under the reign of the Khmer Rouge until
1998. Kokthemei Village had comparatively very healthy stock, good organisation and the village huts
were in good condition. Tonlorp Village was extremely poor with emaciated stock, the huts thatching
was not repaired ready for the monsoon and the drinking water was poor. Children drank out of
contaminated and slimy field puddles.
1. Kokthmei Village, Nokopheas Commune,
2. Tonlorp Village, Kokdong Commune,
See the table below for village statistics 2007, the information is from Government departments.
Kokthmei Village Tonlorp Village
Commune name Nokopheas Kokdong
Province Siem Reap Siem Reap
Total villagers (no.) 1050 577
of which there are 490 male 560 female 260 male 317 female
Families (no.) 190 122
Farmers (no.) 190 122
Area of eatable fruit 0 0
Area of jungle 0 0
Total utilized farm area (ha) 0 0
Total Area for rice (ha) 264 293
Wet rice production (ha) 264 293
Dry rice production (ha) 0 0
Total area used for integrated 5 3
vegetable production (ha)
production of which is 2 ha wet 3 ha dry 1 ha 2 ha dry
Total number of cattle 510 (including 9 buffalo) 295 (0 buffalo)
Total number of draft cattle 450 (including 6 buffalo) 177
Ploughs 225 85
Plough hoe 110 53
Carts 98 50
Rice Mills 6 9
From : Werner Stur <email@example.com> | | | Project | Inbox
Reply-To : "Werner Stur" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent : 17 May 2007 11:04:51
To : <email@example.com>
CC : "Sorn San" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject : Re: Rural Cambodian Development
…. Mr Sorn San has changed his email address recently - the new address is email@example.com
You can also reach him on his mobile +855 12 939629. Sorn San is the Director of the National
Animal Health and Production Investigation Center (NAHPIC) at the Department of Animal
Production and Health in Phnom Penh, and has been involved in forage research with CIAT in the
past. He will be able to give you more up-to-date information than I.
There are several grasses and legumes, which can be grown as fodder for cattle. Most farmers in
Southeast Asia grow these forages in intensively managed fodder banks in small areas and use
these to cut feed for their cattle. Unfortunatly, there are no miracle species that grow well in the dry
season and during flooding in the wet season. The dry season is very pronounced in Cambodia and
there simply is no water available for anything to grow. The exception may be tree legumes / tree
fodder as these have a very deep root system and may be able to produce some feed during this
period. There are some grasses which can survive some flooding but these too will not grow well
during the flooding period. Mr Sorn San and colleagues in Kampong Cham have tested a range of
forages. The most promising forages in Kampong Cham were:
Panicum maximum 'Simuang'
Paspalum atratum ' Terenos' (good for flooded areas but not good in the dry season)
Brachiaria hybrid 'Mulato'
Brachiaria brizantha 'Marandu'
Pennisetum purpureum 'Napier' and King grass' or similar (Pennisetum hybrids)
Stylosanthes guianensis 'Stylo 184' (herbaceous legume also fed to pigs and poultry)
Leucaena leucocephala 'K636' and other varieties (tree legume good for dry season)
Gliricidia sepium 'Retalhuleu' (tree legume good for dry season)
Most of our research and development work is directed at poor smallholder families. These can
usually not afford to purchase feed from outside the farm and the only alternative is to grow their own
feed. Legumes such as Stylo, Leucaena and Gliricidia provide high-quality feed which can improve
livestock production. However, in many cases, farmers simply don't have enough feed for their
animals and feeding more feed is the first step. Grasses are ideal for this situation since they
produce a lot of feed, even if it is not as nutritious as legumes. 14
Appendix 3 RELEVENT LOCAL INFORMATION AND PRACTICES
The Importance of Cattle to Cambodian Society
Having cattle is equivalent to having money in the bank for Cambodia farmers and losing cattle is
equivalent to bankruptcy in Western society. Villagers are very poor and have few assets.
Cattle are sold when families want to purchase equipment, land, motorbikes etc, or to give their children
the opportunity of extended education. They are also important during festivals and at weddings where
cattle may be given to the bride’s family, used to provide the wedding banquet, or given to the newly
weds to assist their new life.
Despite this importance, the climate makes it very difficult to utilize the land, resulting in emaciation and
subsequent disease outbreaks in a large proportion of cattle.
The Cambodian History
Why does Cambodia need support? Cambodia has an exceptional history which explains Cambodia’s
poverty, the lack of progression compared to some other countries, and the requirement for
international aid to be able to progress. Many people know of the Khmer Rouge reign from 1975-1979
who caused the deaths of ¼ of the population, but there was also severe and devastating war before
and after that time.
The educated and wealthy were immediately targeted for eradication, followed by many other groups
seen as a risk to the communist movement. For the same reason, families were deliberated separated
so there could be no family loyalties competing with loyalties to the communist movement. This resulted
in important skills not being passed from generation to generation as would normally occur. The
country’s infrastructure was broken down along with communication with outside countries; and the
produce grown by the starving work population was exported, and National monies spent on weaponry.
The communist plan was to develop Cambodia to make it into a thriving and competitive international
player but the Khmer Rouge plans lacked the foresight and expertise required to succeed. Instead,
grand irrigation and damming projects failed, and a country of starving workers were created resulting
in the deaths of 100,000’s of people through malnutrition, and disease. The paranoid nature of the
leaders resulted in the torture and execution of further 100,000’s of perceived but usually imagined
enemies, justified by the confessions written under torture.
Most regions of Cambodia were freed from the reign of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 but Peilen Town,
Odormeanchey Province and Siem Reap were under the Khmer Rouge until 1998! According to the
people I spoke to in Siem Reap, the Government had control of 70-80% of the area but the Khmer
Rouge “disturbed every thing”. The roads were poor but Government developments to rebuild the
Province were hindered by the Khmer Rouge who destroyed bridges and roads. The presence of
mines continued to be a major problem (significant clearing started around 2001 by Aki Ra, CMAC),
people felt under threat and generally insecure. Cars were burnt, people stolen from, raped and killed.
The Khmer Rouge lived in the jungle by day and came into the villages at night, where they took what
they wanted and terrorised villagers. Any efforts to help the villagers were limited to between the hours
of 10am-3pm and slowed by poor roads and mines. Many people were afraid to enter these areas at all.
These villages included the area of Angkor Chum where the villages for our trial have been selected
This history has resulted in the Siem Reap Province being one of the poorest in Cambodia, second only
to Peilen Town. In the past four years, the town of Siem Reap has developed dramatically to meet the
demands of tourists flocking (approximately 2 million in 2008 and less in 2009) to see the incredible
Angkor Wat complex, and is becoming a sophisticated town with many hotels and bars. The rural
areas however, remain incredibly poor.
The Cambodian Government is very committed to rebuilding its’ country after the hardships of war, and
are well aware of what changes are required. They are very keen to work closely and in co-operation
with, external parties to make positive change, but they do not have the financial resources to make the
dramatic input into agriculture and horticulture required to create sustainable rural developments.
If resources are provided in a carefully considered and integrated way, the changes can be genuinely
productive and self-sustaining.
If you are interested in getting involved either by sharing contacts, resources,
experience or financially, please contact me (Trish Johansen) on firstname.lastname@example.org