Project #6212

A Sustainable Solution To Malnutrition In Cambodia

by MaD Cambodia

After a full year of trials and tribulations we have been somewhat successful with Moringa.

The community are using the trees that have survived the worst flooding in 40 years are still doing well but they account for less than 10 trees so we have to apply the funding on hand to continue the project - pretty much from scratch for 2012 and hope this wet season we have no more floods.

During these floods the community lost 35% of the rice crop and many homes were damaged and destroyed. 

We where the sole suppliers of food to the village for many weeks but thankfully as the waters have dried up the repair and rebuilding work has got underway!

The road remains ruined and difficult to gain access to the village on anything but a motorcycle... but we continue our efforts and Moringa will be a project we will be glad to reinstate in the community.

Thanking all donors and supporters for your contributuion to making our work possible. 

Part of the Road
Part of the Road

April is normally the hottest [or at least it feels like it is because of the dry heat] month in Cambodia. Normally our last proper rains are November or early December and come April Siem Reap and the countryside is a dust bowl, where all vegetation takes on a red coating of dust.Everything is dull, wilted and the hot winds that blow simply create more dust and a wither all in their path.
I did say 'normally' - this year has been somewhat different... since April was a pretty cool month this year with a fair amount of rain, we all knew the wet season was definitely going to be different! I guess we just underestimated how different!!!

As I write this update, 500 people are missing with over 150 people having been confirmed to have died in flash floods... the most intense rains in over 40 years have been reported. [I have lived all over the world and in my 50 + years I can not recall rain of such ferocity!] Visitors to the temples had to be rescued by 13 Cambodian Air force helicopters and with an estimated 80,000 hectares of rice crops ruined under metres of water - the forecasts are there is still more to come!
In Prolit we have a disaster which is unfolding daily.... we believe the entire rice crop for the whole village will be lost as it has now been 2m underwater for the best part of 3 weeks. Homes have been washed away along with huge sections of the road. Access is extremely difficult and limited currently to motorcycles - this involves crossing a fast flowing river on a felled palm tree for 5m and then walking 3m in knee-deep water with the motorcycle. A bridge which was only installed a year ago is no more! We know of 11 families who have lost their homes and are living with others in the village. Our moringa trees in Central Prolit are doing fine as there is has remained for the most part dry, but everywhere else we have lost everything. The photos attached can hardly share or show the extent of the devastation and destruction...
We appeal for help, support & assistance in getting Cambodia back on it's feet...

In Prolit the village is ready to repair and rebuild HOWEVER they need the materials and assistance from us in order to do so. Rice has been ordered - 1 tonne so far - BUT this will not feed 1,000 villagers for long so we appeal for funding for;

  • Re-establishment of the Morringa Project - which has done so well thus far! 
  • RICE 
  • Funds for building materials that we can help get Prolit safe and living again. 

Thank You to all who have supported the Morringa Project to date, and who follow with great interest what MaD Cambodia does.

Any supporters who wish to donate to help our work in relieving the victims of the flooding can do so through our ammado page: (donations to this GlobalGiving page will go our nutrition project and not to these flood relief efforts).

Just one of the homes lost
Just one of the homes lost
A well used and thriving Moringa Tree
A well used and thriving Moringa Tree
Moringa not affected by Flood Waters
Moringa not affected by Flood Waters


Harvesting Moringa
Harvesting Moringa

Since starting this project we have learned a lot about Moringa and Amarinth... it is not as straight forward as one thinks or as is reported on in other countries. It is only by trying different approaches that we have a result which is reaping the rewards we had hoped.

As it is now the wet season things have slowed down considerably but as the photos will show the Moringa is doing well. It is being harvested and used in soups and many other dishes with great excitement. We continue to cultivate more trees and with time it is envisaged every household will have at least 1 or 2 tress to harvest.

Amarinth has been harvested and is being used to grow for the next dry season as we need to increase the crop size, as a few bushes is not sufficient to feed a family and given we started with a small amount of seed we have had to build up our stock... results are looking very positive indeed.

Photos will be uploaded as we get them edited for size etc. and I hope to have a library on our web site of the progress of the trees so check out our web site and photo albums.


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!


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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Organization Information

MaD Cambodia

Location: Siem Reap - Cambodia
Website: http:/​/​
MaD Cambodia
Project Leader:
Phil Starling
Siem Reap, Cambodia

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