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No Need to Migrate for a Job

Posted On: November 7, 2022

Many people from rural areas migrate to big cities, and even other countries, to find work. After years away from home, Mok Chem returned to Cambodia and embraced a new career as a vegetable farmer.

Farmer Mok Chem holds yard long beans in his field
Farmer Mok Chem holding yard long beans in his field.

By Mok Chem, a 57-year-old farmer in Cambodia, as told to Davuth Nin, Project Coordinator, EWS-KT Cambodia.

KAMPOT PROVINCE, CAMBODIA – My name is Mok Chem, and I live in Chhuk district, Kampot province. My wife, Soun Chanthat, and I were migrants in another country for 10 years with our four children. We spent a long time working as migrants just to get enough income to support the family’s daily needs, and there was not much money left over to support our future. 

So we decided to come back to our homeland, as I had land here that was not being used. I thought that vegetable farming was a livelihood that I could do. I started to grow vegetables, and I was working hard in my field for my family’s survival. However, due to lack of technical knowledge, I was not getting the desired vegetable output, even with sufficient land holdings to support our existence. During that period, I faced many problems, including challenges with off-season vegetable production, which was hard to control.

Then East-West Seed​​ Knowledge Transfer Foundation came to my area to show us a project called Grow Against the Flow. This project focuses on doing vegetable production in the off-season by using grafted rootstock for tomato plants, employing the rain shelter technique to protect crops during heavy rains, and following the IPM (integrated pest management) method to keep crops healthy. I was interested and joined the project as the key farmer in my community. 

Through the Grow Against the Flow project, my wife and I were able to learn a lot about different agricultural techniques, especially in farm management, tomato grafting, pest and disease control, and irrigation system technologies. With this knowledge, we were able to get much better output in the field and to produce crops even during the off-season. 

We have now grown yard long beans and other crops, getting high yields, and we will soon grow grafted tomatoes. Due to our success with vegetable production, we have earned enough profit to support the family, to invest in the farm, and to save for the future. 

We have used part of that profit to buy farm equipment and other farm inputs to support the farm, as we have increased the land production area. My first three crop cycles with EWS-KT were on a 500-square-meter plot, but now we grow vegetables on 2 hectares of land.  We also used some of the profit from the farm to pay the school fees for our grandchildren and to build a new house. 

I am so happy, as I get enough profit from vegetable farming to support my family and to plan for the future. And I can live in my homeland, with my family, to get this income. I do not need to migrate to find a job in other countries anymore, and I will continue to expand my vegetable farming here at home.

Farmers Soun Chanthat and Mok Chem stand by a piece of farm equipment
Soun Chanthat and Mok Chem with their new farm equipment.

Grow Against the Flow enables smallholder farmers in Cambodia and Lao PDR to increase safe, year-round vegetable production by teaching them techniques for growing and harvesting vegetables in difficult climatic conditions. Cultivating crops in the traditional off-season makes nutrient-rich food consistently available to consumers and raises the income of farmers. This project is co-funded and led by the World Vegetable Center in collaboration with EWS-KT, Lao PDR Department of Agriculture, and iDE.