Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

A woman carries rice seedlings though a paddy in Kandal province. Yesterday Phnom Penh hosted the Kingdom’s first ever conference for a national network of women farmers. Aim Valinda
A woman carries rice seedlings though a paddy in Kandal province. Yesterday Phnom Penh hosted the Kingdom’s first ever conference for a national network of women farmers. Aim Valinda

Female farmers seeking louder voice on ag policy

A national network of women farmers was established in the capital yesterday in the hopes of amplifying the voices of the Kingdom’s primarily female agricultural labour force amid a male-dominated policymaking environment.

Some 100 “women-farmer champions” met in Phnom Penh at a conference organised by Oxfam and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF). The women selected 48 national champions – two from each province – to represent the interests of agricultural stakeholders at the national level.

Women represent 75 per cent of the agricultural labour force but hold only 20 per cent of government positions in agricultural policymaking, said Oxfam policy adviser Kaneka Keo.

“Women farmers have done a lot of good – we need to give them a platform to have a chance to talk,” she said.

Cambodia’s women farmers are particularly vulnerable to climate change, according to several international bodies.

This, compounded with the lower literacy rates among female farmers, impairs their ability to take out small loans, plan crops to market demand and access information on climate-change adaptation, said Keo.

Siem Reap province champion Seak Kaliyann, who heads a cooperative of 100 farmers, said yesterday that beyond the challenge of a lack of market access, the past two years of drought have dried up income. She is able to produce only enough to feed her family, though she could previously make $250 per year selling produce.

Keo said that accessing micro-finance loans was a “complicated process”, sending women to same-day moneylenders with higher interest rates, which pushes farmers into debt, which in turn drives the migration of men to seek work further afield, like in Thailand.

Leam Sangim, a champion from Preah Vihear, said that because of the drought, 15 people had left her Kulen district village last year.

At yesterday’s conference, Mom Thany, deputy chair of the MAFF’s gender and children working group, acknowledged the lack of representation for women.

“It’s slow; it needs to improve, and it’s not just MAFF – it’s every ministry,” she said, highlighting the government’s Gender Mainstreaming Policy and Strategic Framework in Agriculture 2016-2020.

The framework, adopted last October, seeks to increase women’s economic empowerment and representation in the agricultural sector. One example would be to have more female “extension trainers” – ministry workers who teach farming techniques and strategies for climate-change adaptation.

The role of the network created yesterday, Oxfam’s Keo said, would include holding MAFF accountable in the implementation of such policies.

MOST VIEWED

  • Omicron patients can stay home: PM

    The Ministry of Health has issued a directive on the treatment of people who have tested positive for the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant, following a suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of January 21. The directive permits home quarantine for those who

  • Cambodia’s first ever anime festival kicks off Jan 22 at capital’s F3 centre

    Phnom Penh's first ever Anime Festival will bring together fans, artists, shops and other local businesses with ties to the Japanese animation style for cosplay competitions, online games, pop-up shops and more on January 22, with Friends Futures Factory (F3) hosting. F3 is a project that

  • Mr Pancake or M Crepe? Tasty by any title

    Crowds of people gather around a lone man with a mobile food cart every day at around 2pm in front of the Institut Francais du Cambodge to order what many say are the best crepes in Phnom Penh. To some – even to the man making

  • Hun Sen gets 4th Covid shot, urges compatriots to follow

    Prime Minister Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany on January 14 received their fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine and called on compatriots to follow suit as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to spread in the community. This marks the launch of Cambodia's fourth-dose vaccination campaign,

  • Fourth dose Covid booster drive jabs 43K in two days

    In the first two days of the fourth-dose Covid-19 vaccination campaign, more than 43,000 people volunteered to get the jabs, while over 4.6 million people have received a third shot. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said that fourth-dose vaccinations, which began on January 14 exclusively with the Pfizer

  • Singapore backs Cambodia's efforts on Myanmar

    Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong supports Cambodia in its efforts to seek a solution to the ongoing Myanmar crisis as the chair of ASEAN. Lee expressed his support during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen via videoconference on January 14, with the talks focused