Following on from the success of our Family Farm Program that teaches families chemical-free farming techniques to improve their nutrition and standard of living, we wish to initiate a trial Mushroom Farming Program.
32% of Cambodian children experience stunting (UNICEF 2017). Of the 35% of Cambodia’s population who live in multi-dimensional poverty, 40% live in rural poverty. This program will address malnutrition and stunting rates, and provide an income for the families who take part. Due to the cost involved in setting up a mushroom farm, this is not a competitive market, improving the outcomes for the participants involved.
The Mushroom Farming Program trial will involve the following steps:
1. Our Education and Community Manager, Salin, will undertake a 10-day training program in the capital of Phnom Penh. This training will be held by Cambodia Mushroom Farm, a reputable training organisation that has proven success in this type of training.
2. Salin will work with our Sustainability Assistant, Sophy, to purchase the materials required to set up a mushroom farm at Human and Hope Association, utilising land we already have. They will trial the farm for two months, then complete an evaluation of the success. It is expected we can earn USD$300 from the sale of these mushrooms within 1.5 months.
3. If the mushroom farm at Human and Hope Association is deemed successful, Salin and Sophy will work together to develop a training plan for the community.
4. Recruitment will commence in the community, searching for five families who are deemed to be living below the poverty line, have land they can use to establish their farm, and have a willingness to learn.
5. The training will commence, with 10 – 15 sessions over a period of time that is determined once the trial is complete. The families will learn the theoretical knowledge about mushroom farming and nutrition and will utilise the established mushroom farm at Human and Hope Association for the practical component of training.
6. Once the training has finished, Salin and Sophy will work with the families to support them to set up their own mushroom farms, using the materials provided by Human and Hope Association. We will be on hand to help them with any advice or practical support they require.
7. Given our past experience implementing programs, we believe that community members need to invest in their development and not rely on direct aid. We will ask the families in the Mushroom Farming Program that they provide us with 50% of their income from the first growth of mushrooms, which will then be used to invest in training for more families.
8. We will conduct an evaluation of the program, focusing on the return on investment, ease of understanding for the participants, income generated and improvements in the standard of living. It will then be determined whether the program will continue for further families.