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Cambodian villagers begin profiting from China-funded mushroom grow house by Jin Ling,May 28, 2020 Adjust font size:

Chuon Khim’s mushroom grow house [Photo courtesy of Sichuan Poverty Alleviation and Immigration Bureau Project Center]

On April 13, Chinese experts participating in the Cambodia-China program of the Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia visited beneficiary Chuon Khim at a village in Cambodia. Chuon’s family had previously built a grow house at the southeast corner of their land for the purpose of cultivating mushrooms with the help of the Chinese staff and shaded it with palm leaves.

Chuon was very glad to report that the mushrooms that were planted have begun growing. He mentioned that his family picks about 10 kg of the crop three times a day. The undertaking is still in its initial stages and will have higher output in the future.

One kg of the mushrooms that Chuon’s family grows sells for 5,000 to 8,000 Cambodian riel (about US$1.25 to US$2). Most of their harvest is sold to a businessperson who visits every morning, and some residents of nearby villages also purchase the crop in the evening. The family has sold more than 100 kg of mushrooms thus far, which has resulted in about US$150 of profit.

Chuon Khim picks mushroom for the Chinese experts. [Photo courtesy of Sichuan Poverty Alleviation and Immigration Bureau Project Center]

The Khmer New Year is one of Cambodia’s major holidays and was originally supposed to be observed from April 13 to 16 this year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The country’s citizens usually dine together and hold various events to celebrate. The occasion can also result in higher profit from mushrooms than normal. Chuon mentioned that the outbreak has affected his sales due to the rescheduling of the holiday and other reasons, and the Chinese team gave him their sympathies.

The Chinese experts were impressed by the quality of Chuon’s mushrooms when they visited, and team leader Yuan Gang congratulated Chuon on their behalf. He also reminded the grower to keep proper temperature and humidity levels and told him that he can consult the technician if he encounters any problems.

Chuon Khim’s wife packs mushroom for the Chinese experts. [Photo courtesy of Sichuan Poverty Alleviation and Immigration Bureau Project Center]

The Chinese team eventually bought two kg of the crop. Chuon Khim’s wife packed the mushrooms in plastic bags but refused to take their money.

“Our grow house was funded by China,” she stated. “We are very grateful for the help we have received, and our mushroom operation has helped us a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic period, so how can we charge the Chinese program staff?”

“The project is funded by the Chinese government, but we want to buy some mushrooms with our own money, so we should pay,” Yuan noted. He felt relieved when the grower eventually took his money.

At the end of the day, the Chinese staff talked about the changes that had been made in the village over the course of more than two years when they were driving away from the village after they finished their work. It may take a while for the people they are working with to escape from poverty, but the progress that has been made thus far is making everyone confident about carrying on.

The Pilot Project of Poverty Reduction Cooperation in East Asia was launched on Dec. 7, 2016, is jointly managed by the Agency for International Economic Cooperation of China’s Ministry of Commerce and the International Poverty Reduction Center in China, and is the first official foreign aid project related to poverty reduction that China has funded.

China has implemented several village-level programs with Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar thus far.The Cambodia-China program is executed by the Sichuan Poverty Alleviation and Immigration Bureau Project Center with the help of the Kingdom of Cambodia’s Rural Economic Development Department of the Ministry of Rural Development.

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