MaD Cambodia

To serve in making a lasting difference for good to as many people, families and communities as we possibly can given the resources at our disposal. To empower individuals to be self-sufficient and to share these acquired life skills with others. To provide communities with the power to shape their own future - a future where their rights to healthcare, education, clean water, nutrition, security, dignity and self-sufficiency become realities, and a future where there is no longer a need for aid
Apr 4, 2011

Update: Moringa thriving in Prolit village

A villager with her new Moringa tree
A villager with her new Moringa tree

We have been having incredible success in Prolit village with the transplanting of Moringa Oleifera! As of April 3rd we have successfully transplanted 62 plants to 31 different households and the results have been staggering. The Moringa are taking root better than we ever imagined, with only 7 plants not surviving the transplant and requiring replacement. This is a huge accomplishment considering how precarious this super-food’s growth can be in its early stages! Moreover, not only have the plants survived transplant, but they have flourished. The stalks are growing larger and hardier, tertiary branches continue to grow, the green colour of the leaves is vibrant and deep, and the leaves themselves are becoming larger and larger, with some growing as large as the palm of a hand. When we check back on the plants already transplanted, the people of Prolit are very proud to show us the new additions to their gardens!

However, this is not to say that the process has been entirely obstacle-free. Our previous reports discuss difficulties we had due to the unpredictability of Cambodian rains and that the research we conducted on the optimal growing conditions for the plants did not end up being locally appropriate. As well, we have not yet had the opportunity to transplant the Amaranth due to difficulties growing the crop in the Cambodian context, but seem to finally have gotten a method that works at MaD base camp. As a result, we are now attempting to grow the Amaranth directly in the Prolit village, but are nearing the rainy season so the window of opportunity is narrowing. If we are not able to get any Amaranth into the residents’ gardens by the time the rains set in then it will have to wait until next dry season. Although this is unfortunate, it is not all that surprising considering that we are the FIRST group in Cambodia to attempt growing Amaranth locally. We are very excited by the progress we have made thus far and are confident that soon enough we will have the people of Prolit benefiting from both of these additional food sources!

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Feb 28, 2011

Moringa in Prolit!

Songhy (MaD
Songhy (MaD's General Manager)

Over the past few weeks, the process of transplanting Moringa trees to Prolit village has begun in earnest.

The first time we walked through the village with the Moringa trees in hand, the villagers oohed and awed and before we knew it, a gaggle of children and adults had gathered behind us, eager to watch the trees take root in local soil. After digging holes, adding water, soil, and mixing in cow manure, the trees were delicately placed in the ground and the roots of MaD’s Moringa trees made their first contact with Prolit’s soil.

A total of 13 Moringa trees have now been transplanted and the results have been heartening. Many of the trees are sprouting nicely and maintaining their rich green colour – signs that the roots have integrated with, and are drawing nutrients from, the local soil. As expected, however, there have also been some trees that have not handled the transplant as well, as indicated by yellowing leaves and wilting. After analyzing which plants have succeeded and which have had more difficulty, we started noticing a pattern: the plants that were struggling were almost always exposed to more direct sunlight than those that were flourishing.

This was a surprising finding. All of the research we had done while conceptualizing and developing this project indicated that Moringa trees grow best in full sun – the more sun, the better, the experts said. Those who have been to Cambodia can attest that the sun here feels different – more intense – than in other parts of the world, but nonetheless we wanted to follow the tried and tested experience of the researchers. Direct sun may be just right for Moringa trees to flourish in, say, California, but in Cambodia, all sun, all day long is simply too much. We should have known better than to underestimate the indomitable climate of Cambodia!

We have since adjusted our transplanting process to have the Moringa trees planted in areas of half sun, and the results have been promising; since implementing this change, none of the transplanted trees have exhibited signs of distress and the success rate after transplant has been much higher. As always, experience is the best teacher.

In the next few weeks, Amaranth seedlings will also be making their way to Prolit village. Our resident Amaranth plants at MaD Base Camp are thriving and will be yielding grains very soon. Our team is now skilled in transplanting these crops, which bodes well for Prolit village.

A fence to protect the tree
A fence to protect the tree
Doing well!
Doing well!

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Jan 11, 2011

Coming Soon to Prolit Village: Moringa & Amaranth

Recent meeting with families of Prolit Village
Recent meeting with families of Prolit Village

In May 2010, MaD launched its nutrition project and announced our plan to cultivate and ultimately transplant two amazing plants – Moringa and Amaranth – to the rural communities that we work with. Over the past few months we have been nurturing young Moringa trees in our organic garden at MaD Base Camp. When they are young, Moringa trees are incredibly fickle and are extremely sensitive to moisture levels (though once established, they are extremely resilient). As a result, it’s no small feat seeing these plants from seeds through to established trees. Thanks to the expertise of our Khmer team, however, our Moringa nursery is now bursting with beautiful, green Moringa leaves ready to be transplanted, and our Amaranth seedlings are slowly starting to sprout.

The initial concept for this project was developed in response to the people of Prolit's identification of malnutrition as one of their greatest concerns during preliminary needs assessments, and the details of the project have subsequently been refined through informal discussions with key members of the community. As a continuation of this community-led development process, last week MaD held a village-wide meeting in Prolit to announce that, after a long rainy season, we are finally ready to begin transplanting Moringa and Amaranth.

Our General Manager Songhy led a boisterous discussion about the community’s experience with Moringa and Amaranth, the nutritional benefits of the plants, ideas about how the crops will be transplanted to the village, and much more. We solicited feedback on these plans and asked the villagers to voice their comments and suggestions. What started as a relatively small meeting of 20 or so families quickly ballooned into a much larger gathering, as people in the area were drawn in to the community centre by the discussion emanating from it and families from the outer reaches of the village slowly made their way over to join us. The families who attended the meeting were extremely excited by the prospect of having consistent and sustainable access to these plants and incorporating them into their families’ diets!

Malnutrition is a significant problem in Cambodia at large, with 26% of the population suffering from it and 45% of children experiencing stunting as a result. We see the signs of malnutrition on a daily basis in Prolit Village: dry flaking skin, hair that is losing its pigment, chronic fatigue, children with distended bellies. Parents and grandparents in Prolit Village know the human toll that malnutrition takes. The enthusiasm of the villagers during last week’s introductory meeting suggests they are committed to relieving their children of that burden and ultimately eradicating the scourge of malnutrition in their community. With the array of vitamins and amino acids in Moringa and Amaranth, this project is well-positioned to make key strides toward achieving that goal.

57 families – virtually all of those who attended the meeting – have expressed interest in receiving Moringa trees and Amaranth and have agreed to undertake this nutrition project with us. In the next few weeks, we will be starting the process of transplanting the crops to these families’ homes and working with them to learn how to prune, harvest and re-plant the crops for maximum benefit. Meanwhile, we will work together with the community on an ongoing basis to share ideas about how to incorporate the delicious foods these plants produce into traditional Cambodian recipes!

We are super-excited to soon have these plants - and the people eating them - flourishing in Prolit Village very soon. Stay tuned to this space and our facebook page for updates!

-Max Laskin and Alex Fidler-Wener

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