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Case Study 2: Ty Saoly in Prey Veng Province

Ty Saoly is an elderly woman struggling to make ends meet. She has endured a lot in her lifetime but this has given her a strong sense of working in the community.

She only has a little plot of land behind her house and rents a rice field during the rice season, together with her friends from the IFAD farmer group. She works and lives alone – her husband is in the army in the north of the country. She takes care of her grandsons during the day as her daughter is too busy.

Left: Mrs Ty saoly’s piglets, just on the edge of the vegetable garden, provide easy manure as fertiliser.

She concedes that without her vegetable garden, chicken and pigs she would not have been able to feed herself and her grandchildren this year: ‘This year, I heard many farmers suffered from floods, but we had droughts…so out of the 40 ares of rented paddy field, only 20 ares could be harvested. We lost a lot…’

Adding to her struggle, the changes in the climate made it harder for Saoly to steer out of poverty. As we sit below her house, I ask her about the IFAD revolving fund. She slowly puts her reading glasses on, takes a big red book and shows me with a sense of pride and authority: ‘Here is where I keep all the accounts – you can check. I am the book keeper for the group – in the past years, we only had one problem: one of our farmers left the province and never came back to pay – I do not know how to collect his fees since he is gone. This year, I expect it will be hard for my group: the bad climate affected the rice harvest.’

Left: The vegetable garden, well organised and with a small water pond to irrigate the vegetables more easily.

She explains that she could make better profit if she sells her goods in the market less than a mile away but she prefers to sell it to the young girls working in the market: ‘I sell to them a few hundred riel below the market price so that it helps them to make a profit.’ Her good social sense has won the trust of the other farmers in her group.

She uses a digital camera for the first time in her life. She struggles to find the push button. She then tries it, but only presses enough to get the camera in focus. I feel that her photo presentation could be compromised. But when I meet her just a week later, before the forum, her camera is full of wonderful photos that tell the story of sharing labour and sharing experiences in her farmer group. Many of the pictures show little shops run by her colleagues: ‘we need to have many ways of income – this is a good security for us, specially with the climate changing. We need to use all the alternatives we can find.’

Above: A Photo by Ty saoly, made during harvest with the farmer group – Click here to see more of Ty Saoly’s Photos – some are quite simply beautiful and so authentic

Despite the floods and droughts, Ty Saoly managed to stay afloat thanks to a well-kept vegetable garden. Her pigs produce manure as fertiliser while selling the piglets brings a well needed income. She has sold all her chicken but concedes that she prefers ducks as they are more resilient to climate, especially when it floods.

Ty Saoly invested in pigs and chicken thanks to the revolving fund. She concedes that the combination of the fund and the learning about new farming options saved her from poverty: ‘This year, I am grateful for having vegetables. They provide regular income and food. This year was tough for everyone. I do not know what we would have done without the revolving funds – it really helped.’

Below: Saoly’s grandson, who helped her to learn how to use the camera.

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