Chetra met and fell in love with her husband in 2009, after they both migrated to Thailand. Working on construction sites, they started saving money, sending it home regularly and dreaming of a life together back in Cambodia.
Meanwhile, Chetra’s mother saved this money, and bought the family a plot of land. Many years later, their investment has paid off. The family now has 2 children and a small farm.
They are growing a diverse range of vegetables, including green melon, morning glory, pumpkin, cucumber, spinach and they have a fishpond. The farm has also helped Chetra and her husband to earn an income, and they are determined not to migrate to Thailand again. Both husband and wife now share the responsibilities for growing, harvesting and distributing the crops.
From the farm to the breakfast table
With a wide variety of vegetables on their farm, Chetra and her husband decided to join World Food Programme’s homegrown school meals programme, after hearing about it from their Commune Chief. They now supply vegetables to 700 local primary school students, and earn a regular income.
‘‘I felt very nervous and hesitated to join the bidding process (to become a supplier) at the beginning,” explained Chetra. “I have little knowledge about the price fluctuation of vegetables on the market. I am afraid of loss. However, the quantity and quality of my vegetables brings me confidence because my husband and I grow them by ourselves. We have technical knowledge for planting that we received from local NGO trainings,’’ Chetra said.
With the support from her whole family, Chetra was able to fulfill requirements of the bidding process and received a contract to supply meat and vegetables to four schools in her commune. This food is prepared by school cooks so that students can start the day with a healthy and filling meal.
“I supply 18 kilograms of vegetables and 12.5 kilograms of fish/meat every day to four schools; while the rest of the vegetables are distributed to the market by my husband and I,” Chetra said.
“This year, my husband my husband and I are planning to use the money that we have earned to expand our farm. We will increase the amount that we plant,” Chetra said.
Healthy food benefits the whole family
It’s midday and Chetra’s family is getting ready for lunch in the front yard of their farm house. She is preparing lunch for her husband and two children — fried pork and cucumber that was grown on their farm.
Channa, her oldest daughter has just arrived home from school on her bicycle. She makes the 3km trip 6 days per week. Now a 14 year old in grade 7, Channa can remember eating WFP’s school meals when she was in primary school that included food from her parent’s farm.
Now she’s helping her parents to supply other children with food. ‘‘After school around 2–3 pm, I always help my mum pick and distribute vegetables to schools,” she said. Channa and her younger brother grew up at this farm. It is also their playground. However, ‘‘I do not want to be a farmer. I want to be a teacher in the future,’’ she said.