March 2nd, 2012 | by Chris Hufstader
Farmers transplanting rice in Pursat province, Cambodia. Photo by Sokunthea Chor/Oxfam America.
A recent trip around the magnificent Tonle Sap lake reminded me how close to extreme poverty so many farming families can be, needing only a small nudge in the wrong direction to change their lives in ways that can take them decades to recover.
The reminder came while visiting Yem Dieb and Say Chhoun in Pursat, a province south of the lake. The wife and husband had learned how to grow rice using the System of Rice intensification thanks to the work of our partner Srer Khmer, which has trained nearly a thousand farmers in SRI over the last two years in Pursat.
Say Chhoun is a humble man but he is obviously proud of his rice-growing accomplishments over the last couple of years, as he took one small field producing one bag of rice a year to six, first by doubling his yield, then learning to produce three crops in a year instead of just one. It is still not enough to feed his entire family, which includes nine children, so Chhoun is also renting fields from other farmers to try to piece together enough land to grow the rice his family needs to survive. Read the rest of this entry »
May 21st, 2009 | by Guest Blogger
Sarah Zipkin on a visit to a farm in Mississippi.
Sarah Zipkin is the project officer for Oxfam’s decent work program in the US. This is the first of two guest posts by Sarah about food, farms, and what it means to support workers’ rights in 2009.
Last week, as I walked through the doors of the RJ Reynolds tobacco company headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was having a flashback to another time. My parents told me about the grape boycott led by Cesar Chavez in the 1960s, and I read about farmworker rights in the Grapes of Wrath in high school–yet here I was in 2009, walking in a rally with a painted tobacco leaf hanging around my neck that said “Justice Now for Farmworkers!”
Today, a farmworker in this country makes around $13,000 a year and has a life expectancy of 49 years. (Yes, you read that right.) Hazardous working conditions, long hours, and a lack of health services take a toll on these workers, especially tobacco pickers–some even get physically ill. And this has been the reality for over 30 years.
That’s why 40 of us–students, people of faith, worker rights advocates, union leaders, and grandmothers–turned out on that balmy Wednesday morning in Winston-Salem. We were ready to stand up for farmworker rights at RJ Reynolds’ annual shareholders meeting, and to bring the voice of farmworkers to the company’s Board of Directors and CEO Susan Ivey.
Read the rest of this entry »
October 15th, 2008 | by Anna Kramer
Check out this painting by Ashley Cecil, which was commissioned by Oxfam for a global project using art to show the connection between climate change and poverty. Ashley’s gigantic canvas (it’s four feet by six) will join others from around the world at the next big UN meeting on climate change, which happens this December in Poznan, Poland.
“Farming is hard these days because of changing temperatures, but it’s often the sole survival for people in rural areas,” says Ashley. “I wanted to show that the women are not harvesting crops the way they had hoped. They’re holding a bowl of dust, because this is what they’re left with… In other words, what we’d expect to see is not there.”