Tag Archives: agriculture

Land is Life

The Sam Rainsy Party teams travel deep inside Cambodia to educate, mobilize and empower the people. 

Let us join our voice and let us take a big step forward through grassroots organizing.

Fight for Your Land-Use Your Collective Power

Planting Democracy Seeds-Part 2

Rattanak Mondoul-Battambang Province-North West Cambodia

“My first husband died when he was just 25 years old. We had two children. We came to this part of the forest over 10 years ago. It was nothing but land mines. We were too desperate for land. Our young children watched their children blown up by a land mine”.

“I was clearing the forest and there it was: 3 land mines. I was so terrified, I was paralyzed. I will never forget that day”.

“The rich man tells me that I do not own this land, because I am too young. I say to him that I came with my father to plant these mango trees. I crossed this creek with my father every day. I know every parcel of this land. Do you?”

As I listen to this group of 40 farmers talking about their desperate search for land to cultivate, I hear their burning need for justice. For over a decade, they have farmed these plots of land collectively and have managed to build a community and survived year after year from the crops.

Today, rich and powerful men claim that every single plot of land in this community is theirs. They have the backing of the new village chief and the commune chief. They are protected by police and local authorities.

I say to the villagers:

Tell your stories. Tell the truth. That is your power.

Stand up together. That is your power.

Speak with one voice. That is your power.

The rich men do not have your power.

“Land is life- land is hope. ” a song from the messenger band. A group of young women who put justice into songs.

A day in the life of Mu Sochua

Video created by Philip Skoczkowski. Check out his amazing work at www.skoczkowski.com

A Day In The Life Of Mu Sochua from Philip Skoczkowski on Vimeo.

Back in Battambang – Sesame Fields Forever

Thursday, June 09, 2011
By Mu Sochua

Six AM breakfast in Phnom Penh followed by a 4 hour drive up North to Battambang lands us in Koh Kroloh district of the province. The more off-road our journey gets the closer we get to the village, where landless people are having their sesame crops destroyed by what is being recalled as “the others”.

The land we stand on used to be a forest occupied by the Khmer Rouge, before integrating with the Royal Government Forces in 1997, and is now being seized by army chiefs. Despite the fact that the land is state owned, meaning that it is available for social concessions- for landless people, high ranking officials as well as private parties secretly want to keep this land as private. The issue has been brought up by landless farmers who have came from neighbouring districts in hope of harvesting state land as a mean for their livelihoods. The government on the provincial level has refused to come in and take control of the situation, leaving actions taken on this land highly questionable and evidently harmful for the landless farmers who have been residing the area for a number of years now.

After meeting with the farmers and investigating the damaged fields, Sochua, her team and the victims were brought to the local police station to personally discuss land issues with the authorities.


Sochua holding sesame crops


Sochua talking with farmers about their destroyed land.


Walking towards destroyed field.


Farmers brought to police to discuss land issues w/ local authorities.


Investigating destroyed sesame crops.


Investigating destroyed sesame crops 2



Local transportation.


Local transportation 2




Sam Rainsy Party member at work.


Landless farmer, victim of land mine


In the fields.


Listening to their thoughts and concerns.

Photos by Philip Skoczkowski

Back on the Campaign Trail- Land is Life (Post 2)

During 3 days, our team walked through 7 villagers in Sampouv Loun and Phnom Preuk districts and addressed over 1,000 villagers.

The district governor of Sompouv Loun, a man in his 50’s who joined the Khmer Rouge in his early 20’s was not welcome by the villagers when he led local authorities to meet with the villagers the previous week.

When our team arrived the first day, the villagers were agitated as officials from the environment office have started to mark the land with wooden posts and clear 30 hectares of land for the company’s office.

At each village, our team looked through documents issued by the government and informed the people of their content. Villagers had never been informed of land concessions provided to the company. Economic land concessions are kept as secret by the government. All economic concessions are signed by the prime minister.

At each village our team held a public forum on land rights. Hundreds of affected villagers came. Women came with their infants and children, the elderly, and people men disabled by land mines as they cleared the forest.

The farmers spoke with rage, in despair and want immediate cancellation of the economic concessions.

“Our land is our life. We live off our land . We will die on our land” were the words from the villagers.

Rich Soil

The soil is fertile, Cambodian villagers farm all year round but the market is controlled by Thai companies.

“The Villagers came first, not the company”

The third day was most significant: 700 villagers had the first meeting with their district governor at his office. Our team led and moderated the 3 hour long meeting.

“Sisters and brothers, this office is your office. The governor is a civil servant. He serves you. You elected me as your representative. I serve you. Please make your requests and speak with no fear“, I took the microphone after the district governor gave his remarks.

The villagers spoke loud and clear:

1/ we cleared the land, not the company;

2/ the land must be divided among the farmers first, the company can reeive the rest of the shared land;

3/ we want to protect the remaining part of the forest;

4/ we want enough land for our children;

5/ we want fair compensation is our land is taken from us for the company;

6/ we will not leave our villagers;

7/ we want roads, schools and clean water;

8/ we want fair price for our crops.

The atmosphere of the meeting was tense when the governor spoke of the government’s plan to divide the land. The villagers protested.

My 3 young colleagues, recently elected at sub-national level played a major role in facilitating the meeting. They demonstrated a strong sense of maturity, analytical and public skills and respect for the principles of democracy.

The villagers had never been received by the governor at his office. Every word at the meeting was recorded and heard.

The villagers travelled more than 2 hours to reach the governor’s office.

Our team moved on to the next district, faced with the same problem.

The Messenger Band

At each meeting we played “Land is Life” a song composed and sung by the Messenger Band, a group of young women factory workers, students and villagers.

Hundreds protest over land grant- Phnom Penh Post

More than 500 villagers from Battambang province’s Sampov Loun district gathered yesterday to protest against a land concession of more than 4,000 hectares that they say will push them off their farmland.

The villagers were joined by Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua, who said the 70-year, 4,095-hectare land concession, awarded in March to Suon Mean Sambath Company, had been granted on the land of more than 1,000 families in Sampov Loun’s Serei Meanchey commune.

“The developments of the government nowadays are harmful to the people,” she said. “The people’s suggestion is for the government to think of the people first before thinking about companies.”

Read the complete article on the Phnom Penh Post website.


Agricultural Visit to Angkor

Monday, October 25, 2010

Yesterday, Monday 25th October, me and my team went on an agricultural research trip to Siem Reap. For the past few months, I have been looking into supporting women farmers in my own consistuency, Battambang Province. Some very successful NGOs have offered to help me, including CADF and the Agricultural Development Denmark Asia (ADDA), both based in Siem Reap. The latter focuses on women farmers empowerment in 3 Cambodian provinces (Siem Reap, Bantey Meanchey, and Battambang), with the support of the EU and WB notably. We met with some of their representatives to discuss their model and work with local women, as well as to discuss directly with some of the women involved (visiting their farms and community groups).

After this trip, we will work on developing our own system in Battambang, following local women’s needs and desires, as well as market demand and supply there, but using some of the tools already successfully put in place by ADDA notably.