Photo Exhibition: Community Seed Festival 2022
On the occasion of the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles, Focus on the Global South presents an online photo exhibition from the Community Seed Festival which was conducted on 26th – 27th March 2022 at Sdei Krom Village, Prek Luong Commune, Ek Phnom District, Battambang Province, Cambodia.
The purpose of the community seed festival is to preserve ancient seeds and their varieties, to continue the tradition of natural cultivation using indigenous varieties that promote health, well-being and a beautiful environment, and also to highlight our Khmer ancestors’ magnificent agricultural heritage.
In the fields of fisheries, agriculture, and animal husbandry, our wise ancestors conserved the natural ecology in a sustainable way and fostered development of the agriculture sector into the potential befitting a great national economy.
The agricultural work of our ancestors is clearly based on natural principles, in how we work with nature and the preservation of natural resources such as land, water, forests, fish, and wildlife, as recorded in history. For hundreds and thousands of years and generations, we’ve all been utilizing nature in this way. However, the traditional agricultural method is now unfortunately being abandoned.
Modernization affects Cambodian farmers virtually everywhere, leading to the dominance of contemporary farming practices that rely almost entirely on chemical inputs, fertilizers, and pesticides of all types. Practicing this approach makes us happy for a while since it produces a lot of yields, readily and promptly on time, but that happiness turns into despair after 10 or 20 years. Crop yields are plummeting at an alarming rate. Farmers are compelled to pay interest on loans, purchase seeds, fertilizers, and expensive treatments, as well as sell their products at cheap prices or risk losing money. Every month, the amount of debt owed increases. Some individuals sell their farmland/residential land in order to pay off their obligations. Not only that, the exposure to chemicals is causing deterioration in farmers’ health, as well as land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Poem: The Wind
On the field, the cool wind blows at night, fading away on the rice field and farmland, bringing the pleasing scents of flowers, under the veil of darkness and the rising stars.
The wind pushes the dark clouds away, clearing the sky, blowing the old leaves, fallen, and new ones emerge, growing fresh.
The southwestern wind flows, bringing rainfall, good soil, good crops, and early wind flows, helping farmers and everything continues to grow, everywhere.
The wind brings a lot of memories, at night, day, evening, morning, restlessly, reminding everyone, warning of coronavirus.
The wind tells a story, of cautions, of men and women, of death, of millions killed in the world.
The wind flows, tells us of three do’s and three don’ts to help us survive, while little wind can help us chill down, storms are deadly.
The wind blows away the worries, of coronavirus and sadness and they drift away, the wind blows gently, heart and body in everlasting peace, happiness, forever.
Bringing Communities Together
More than 300 people worked together for the arrangement of the exhibition site, decoration of the festival hall, preparing slogans and the hoisting of banners.
On this special occasion, 41 vegetable seeds and 50 rice varieties were collected for the purpose of sharing among small-scale farmers.. This event was meant for promoting traditional seed identity, cultural identity,, local food systems, as well as agroecology-based farming principles in support of transforming conventional farming systems to a more sustainable path.
Seed Preparation and Exhibition
Participants from the provinces such as Battambang, Takeo, Prey Veng, Pursat, Pailin, Kampong Thom organized their seeds by name and key information. The history of each variety was also presented during the seed exhibition for all to see and understand the ancient/traditional Khmer seeds. There were hundreds of varieties such as rice, beans, cabbage, ginger, galanga, gourd, pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon, papaya, potatoes with different names and varieties according to each region.
In addition to raising awareness, the event sought to reach out to local farmers and youth to foster appreciation of Khmer agricultural traditions and invite participation in conservation of these seeds or varieties. In the longer run, such engagement is also aimed at reducing the imports of chemical agricultural inputs and the use of hybrid seeds.
Farmer to Farmer Exchange and Workshops on Agroecology Practices
In addition to sharing seeds, the event provided an opportunity to share agroecology practices across farmers, on how to grow vegetables naturally or in an environmentally sustainable manner, how to preserve seeds and pest prevention from bugs or diseases. The proceedings included 5 workshops, to impart training on preparing the following:
- Dry and liquid composts
- Bio-herbicide, amino acids by using chicken egg, bio-pesticide, kaffir lime shampoo and natural skin lotion
- Practical bio-gas plant
- The benefits of multi-cropping system and alternative-cropping system
- Biochar or Bio-charcoal