Agriculture Family Project
One of the key pillars buttressing the aid projects supported by Smiling Gecko Cambodia (SGC) is the «Agriculture Family Project» (AFP). Launched in 2014, the project is housed on the cluster property the SGC purchased in the northern province of Kampong Chnang and which, today, extends over 100 ha. By establishing the necessary infrastructure from
drinking water supply and sewerage to electric power and road connections, SGC has laid the foundation for the success of the project. Since 2015, 12 carefully selected families, largely recruited and relocated from slums, have been given a safe and secure future in independent farm businesses that allow them to make a decent living from their own labour.
SECURITY OF INCOME, INDEPENDENCE AND FAIR DISTRIBUTION OF WORK FOR THE FARM FAMILIES
While the land was being prepared for crop production, the first family farms were built. The combination of 12 small farms, designed to breed poultry and pigs, and fields and orchards provides a basic income for the large families settled by SGC and their immediate relatives. True to their commitment to «help for self-help», SGC does not merely hand over these
farms to the families free of charge, but requires them to enter into a lease contract. The farm families will pay SGC a lease rent and will also be solely responsible for the upkeep of the premises and equipment. If they hire external labourers, they must pay a fair wage as well as the necessary social insurance contributions.
INDUSTRIAL POULTRY AND PIG BREEDING
Pursuing a strictly scientific approach, Smiling Gecko operates a poultry and pig farm that supplies a stock of chicks and piglets which the farmers can raise as livestock. The industrial poultry and pig breeding guarantees a steady income for Smiling Gecko due consistent quality and minimum sales volumes. The AFP also employs roughly 300 local farmers who produce for Smiling Gecko as a means to supplement and increase their income. The «Agriculture Family Project» is assisted by the Agricultural education and advisory centre Zug (LBBZ) under the leadership of its rector Martin Pfister. The chicken farming and egg production branch of our
«Agriculture Family Project» is backed by the CIMBRIA foundation. This cooperation allows Smiling Gecko to run the poultry farm in an efficient and sustainable manner. This farm also supplies chicks to our farm families who, in turn, will raise the chicks to maturity following the principles and latest discoveries in modern poultry farming. In an attempt to stimulate egg production and enhance fertility in the chicken, the coops and the chicken breeds are optimised, respectively, following the recommendations of the LBBZ and selecting the breeds that are most likely to thrive in the climatic conditions at hand.
LOCAL VALUE CHAIN
Only a small portion of the food produced by the AFP is intended to feed the families working on the farms. Most of the produce, which is purely organic and grown according to sustainable principles, is sold. Examples of the customers the farms supply with the foods they produce are the Farmhouse Smiling Gecko and, in future, the cafeteria of the Village School Project as well as the kitchen of the Sustainable Garment Production facility. Over time, the AFP will generate sufficient income to fund itself, allowing SGC to cover the operating costs of the Village School Project and to invest in additional aid projects. Overall, the project enables former slum dwellers to earn a proper living and to become financially independent instead
of having to subsist on scraps of food left by others. Before joining the project, many of the families lived on the street. Now, they have a proper home with four solid walls. As their future is now much more secure, they can make decisions and learn to take responsibility for their own lives. However, farming is a profession that cannot be controlled one hundred per cent and always involves the risk of a poor harvest or animals falling ill, etc. For this reason, it is important not to rely on one pillar alone, but to support it with other sources, thereby creating a sound foundation for the entire community.
A CRUCIAL PIECE OF INFRASTRUCTURE – LOCAL SCHOOLS
Following the cluster system developed by SGC, a number of important facilities and services are being established around the «Agriculture Family Project» farms, serving both the farming families and the wider local community and bringing them closer together. For the future, we plan on building a number of communal premises such as storage sheds
and abattoirs. At the moment, our focus is, however, on upgrading schools. Through the «Village School Project» and other educational services and programs, SGC works hard to give the young people in the area new opportunities, enabling them to take up a trade or profession that will sustain them and their families in the future.