Nak Sok and his wife on their farm
It is estimated that 4,000 – 6,000 square miles of rainforest are lost each year to slash-and-burn agriculture. While this technique of cultivation has existed since humans first began farming, the combination of rapidly declining forests and increasing human population has made it unsustainable. After just one harvest, erosion and nutrient loss causes the soil to quickly degrade, making it impossible to grow on that land again, and forcing farmers to burn down another section of forest. This vicious cycle leads to sustained poverty, forest fires, desertification, biodiversity loss and a net increase in global carbon dioxide emission. To address this critical issue in the Southern Cardamoms, Wildlife Alliance created the Community Agriculture Development Project (CADP) to help families earn a livable income while still protecting wildlife and forests.
The program has helped 187 families lift themselves out of poverty by training them in modern agriculture techniques and marketing, and providing farmers with subsidized tools, irrigation, and seedlings. One such farmer that has benefited is Nak Sok. Before joining the program, Nak Sok and his family survived by poaching and slash-and-burn farming. They were eventually able to save enough to buy a small farm near the Andoung Teuk River. However, they soon found out that the land they acquired actually belonged to someone else, and the “seller” had provided them with false papers and stolen their money. Nak Sok did not want to go back to the unpredictability of the forest and decided to join the Community Agriculture Development Project in Sovanna Baitong instead. The program helped him obtain1.5 hectares of land, where they now grow watermelon, sugarcane, rice, and corn year round. Nak Sok and his wife even raise pigs, chickens, cows and ducks to supplement their income. They are dedicated farmers and parents to four daughters and three sons. Their steady income has allowed them to build a new home for their large family, send their children to school and generate savings. Most importantly, the family has achieved a level of stability and financial success that they never dreamed would be possible when they lived in the forest.
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Their beautiful new home for their large family