In the past Por Ner and his family relied mostly on rotational upland farming of rice for their food and on opium for income to buy clothes and other necessities. Growing upland rice is hard work, and opium is now illegal, so he wanted to try something different and be an example for others in his village.
In 2010 Grandfather Por Ner was chosen to join a study tour to learn about cardamom. With World Renew support he planted 300 shoots in 2010 and participated in training so that he knew the techniques for planting, maintaining, harvesting, and drying. The first harvest was in 2013, and Grandfather Por Ner made almost 5 million kip (about $600) from selling his cardamom. The next year he made $637, and in 2015 he made $750, a reasonable income for families in this area. In the past few months he has been able to use this income to purchase a pipe to bring water to his new fishpond, where he is planning to raise ducks and pigs, and to plant fruit trees in an integrated system. He also was able to take his daughter-in-law to the hospital for medical treatment. He said, “Before, I only had income from selling opium to buy things for my family. But now I don’t grow opium; I grow cardamom and get income from that to buy clothes for my grandchildren and to pay for medical treatment.”
Por Ner plans to keep increasing the size of his cardamom plantation and encouraging others to do the same.
Until 2015, traders were buying dried cardamom directly from local farmers, who used a crude method of drying over a fire (as suggested by the project in 2010). However, as market demand shifted toward higher quality cardamom, the traders started buying unprocessed cardamom from the farmers, at a lower price, and then drying it themselves using a better process.
This year the project is helping several farmers, including Por Ner, to build an oven using a proven design that has been used in other areas. This will help them to obtain a higher price for the cardamom they grow. Grandfather Por Ner explains that when he started in 2010, there was not much interest in growing cardamom in Phialor Kao Village: “When World Renew first promoted growing cardamom here, most people were not interested. Some planted but did not take care of the cardamom. But I took proper care of my garden, and my plants grew well. Over time, we heard more and more stories of farmers in other districts earning good income from cardamom, so others in the village became interested and asked me for shoots.”
Grandfather Por Ner provided over 40 families, some in his village and others in surrounding villages, with cardamom shoots so that they could begin growing as well. World Renew also supported many other families in Phialor Kao, and now nearly all families are growing and will soon benefit from cardamom. When World Renew provides villagers with shoots, we have two main requests: first, that farmers take good care of what they have received, and, second, when the cardamom starts to grow well, pass along the blessing to others by providing them with shoots and training on how to care for the cardamom.
For the future, in addition to adding value by drying the cardamom, Grandfather Por Ner plans to keep increasing the size of his cardamom plantation and encouraging others to do the same. In addition, he is planning a diverse integrated farming system incorporating a fishpond, ducks, pigs, and fruit trees. Grandfather Por Ner is indeed proving to be a very good role model for others in his village.