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Mushrooms Make Poverty History In Cambodia

WRITTEN BY ERYN AUSTIN BERGEN

“When people see how my family has been rapidly changed, especially my neighbours, they start to follow the techniques and training I received from Food for the Hungry.” – Chea Phal

A delicious source of protein and a veggie lovers favourite pizza topping, mushrooms are a diverse and lucrative crop. Chea Phal and her family have recently discovered just how profitable this valued fungus really is.
Chea is a 47 year old mother, wife, and farmer in Oukokir Kandal, a village in Cambodia. Though both her children are grown and out of the house, Chea and her husband were unable to make ends meet. “Before Food for the Hungry (FH) came to our village, my life was really struggling,” she intimates. “We were so poor. We didn’t have enough food to eat everyday. We rarely participated in the community’s activities.”

As FH began to work with community leaders in Oukokir to initiate food security and income generating programs like agricultural techniques training, health education, and savings groups, the village chief recruited Chea to personally participate. He invited her to become a member of the Village Development Committee. As a result, Chea was able to work closely with the FH Cambodia staff. Through this process, she gave input into the shape of the development initiatives in Oukokir and received first-hand knowledge of new agricultural practices.

This is where the mushrooms come in! “Recently, I have started raising crickets and growing mushrooms in order to support my family,” Chea says proudly. “Every day I can collect up to one kilo of mushrooms!” Through her mushroom farm, Chea is able to generate significant income and lift her family out of poverty. As a member of a Savings Group, she also receives business training to increase her money management skills.

In addition to mushroom farming, Chea has also gained experience in family-level farming that puts nutritious produce such as spinach, cabbage, gourds, and eggplant on her family’s table.

“I am so delighted with the changes that have happened in my life. I want to see all the families in my community have the skills to start growing vegetables and raising animals like my family does, in order to improve the livelihood of their families and for the development of the whole community,” Chea gushes. “More importantly, I want them to be able to earn more money to support their families in the future.”
By simply providing access to agricultural techniques and basic business skills training, FH opened up a whole new world of possibilities for Chea and the village of Oukokir. When her family was trapped in poverty, Chea was consumed with the grueling task of simply surviving. Partnership with FH opened the door to a new reality, one in which Chea could feed herself and her family daily, produce a steady source of income, engage meaningfully with her neighbours, and dream of a better future for her entire community.

Find out more about Food for the Hungry's partnerships with communities in Cambodia here.

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Food for the Hungry: Mushrooms Make Poverty History In Cambodia
Mushrooms Make Poverty History In Cambodia
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