July – September is the wet season in Cambodia with approximately 80% of Cambodians* involved in paddy cultivation. In the villages surrounding where we are located people are in the paddy fields from morning until night. It’s labour intensive. Each seedling is planted by hand. Only when you see the backbreaking conditions,and know the time and effort that goes into planting, harvesting and collecting the rice granules do you start to appreciate the easy access to packets of rice in our supermarkets!
At the back of Sophean’s school – where we work – the students are currently planting rice as part of their agricultural studies. The plot is used for different vegetables at other times in the year.
Village agricultural equipment is housed in the ‘Community Enclosure’ our volunteers built at the school. It’s currently in storage as most villagers are working in the rice paddies.
Cambodia has always been the poor cousin of the Asian countries as far as rice production is concerned. However recent data suggests that Cambodian’s rice quality is improving which accounts for it’s change from the lowest exporter of rice in the World in 2009 to currently being the world’s 5th largest exporter. Due to the political instability in neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia looks to be well placed to keep improving its exports which bodes well for the economic prosperity of the country.
*For more details read Luke Hunt’s article in the New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/30/business/international/cambodia-looks-to-put-its-rice-on-the-worlds-plate.html?_r=0