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UBC helps Cambodian women market goods

By Patrick Colvin

The Fish on Farms project started as an initiative to help low-income female farmers in Cambodia create fish farms.
(Bartay Photography)

The Fish on Farms project started as an initiative to help low-income female farmers in Cambodia create fish farms. (Bartay Photography)

A $1 million boost in funding to a University of B.C. international food project will go towards helping female farmers in Cambodia become entrepreneurs.

The Fish on Farms project, a joint venture between Helen Keller International and the UBC faculty of Land and Food Systems, started as an initiative to help low-income female farmers in Cambodia create fish farms. With the new funding they’ve teamed up with the UBC Sauder School of Business to help these women take their farming practices beyond household nutrition and into the marketplace.

According to Sauder instructor Jeff Kroeker, the Cambodian farmers produced enough fish to provide their families with better nutrition and still have enough yield to bring 30% of their fish to the marketplace.

“You want to provide an opportunity for them to do well, so the business side is aiming to see if we can use business entrepreneurship skills to take it to the next level, [beyond] nutrition,” said Kroeker.

Judy McLean, a researcher with UBC’s faculty of Land and Food systems and project co-lead, says that generating income is essential for these women to access a greater variety of foods needed for the household. Just as importantly, it provides income to help the community’s youth gain access to education and educational resources.

“Education provides opportunity that helps raise families out of poverty — the basic cause of under-nutrition,” said McLean in an email to 24 hours.

Students in both the Sauder School of Business and the department of Land and Food Systems have travelled to Cambodia, gaining valuable hands-on experience.

“We talk about UBC students being global citizens and experiential learning, but rarely do they get the kind of opportunity this type of project provides,” said Mclean. “I wish all UBC students could have the opportunity to participate and learn about other cultures and practices, and through doing so, about themselves.” 

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