Coriander Challenge Part 1- Observation at Siem Reap

[Original by Mariko OMURA, Cambodia Project (November 20, 2019); Translated by E. Miyazaki/M. Hajjaj]

I have an achievement that I would like to write about that as a blog on social media networks. I will start sharing that as series from today. Since I regularly update these stories also on Facebook, please would you follow up them also on Facebook (in Japanese)!

Study tour to Siem Reap

The story goes back to March. There are several farmers of JVC’s project sites, who succeeded in expanding their vegetable gardens and grow their vegetables. Ms. Bopper is one of them. She usually sells her surplus of the vegetables to a middleman, but she says that she wants to sell more in another place. The project site of JVC is a one-hour drive from Siem Reap, the famous touristic place of Cambodia. We thought that it would be very beneficial for people like Ms. Bopper to have an opportunity to see the society outside their village, so we have organized a study tour to visit the city of Siem Reap. We went there with four interested farmers whose schedules met.

They visited a big supermarket for the first time, where they were extremely interested in the packed vegetables.

A one-hour drive is not long for me as I used to commute for an hour and a half in Japan, but for the farmers, it is like going to a different world. I found that most of them come out to Siem Reap only once or twice a year to visit temples in the New Year season, or to go to the hospital. We visited a big supermarket in Siem Reap to observe how vegetables are sold and how few of them are Cambodia-grown. We also visited a farmer who wholesales the vegetables to the supermarket every week and exchanged opinions.

Interview with a farmer who ships her vegetables to a supermarket every week. They asked about the advantages and difficulties she faced.

Visit to a restaurant that is interested in buying our vegetables

A new restaurant was due to open next to the guest house in Siem Reap where I stayed before. The owner said that he wanted to use pesticide-free Cambodian-grown vegetables, so we also visited the owner in this study tour.

The owner of the restaurant wants to use vegetables grown by acquainted farmers, since most of the guests come from Europe or the U.S.A., and they are particular about ingredients.

Before the study tour, the restaurant placed a trial order of coriander, which was grown on the JVC’s test farm. The participants visited this farm at the end of the tour, and the staff of JVC explained for them the method and precautions for taking care of coriander.

The JVC staff explains about the coriander at the test farm.

That was all for that day! We gathered again on a later day to look back on the study tour.

The participants exchange their opinions with the staff on the study tour.

Although everyone was interested in shipping their vegetables out of the village, they also heard from the wholesale farmers about various difficulties. Only two women, Ms. Bopper and Ms. Chomno were willing to take the challenge immediately, considering their family matters. Ms. Bopper is one of the rare women in the village who is single and lives with her aged mother. Ms. Chomno is divorced and is raising a small child while living with her parents. The common things are for the two women that they are the only persons who can work in in their families and they have difficulty to work outside of their village. Therefore, we decided to provide these two women with training on growing coriander from this April. We hope to pass them the cultivation of coriander in the JVC’s test farm eventually and encourage them to do business with the restaurant by themselves.

(to be continued)

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