LTRA-12: Conservation agriculture for food security in Cambodia and the Philippines

Principal investigator

Manuel R. Reyes, professor, biological engineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA&T)

Research team

  • Susan Andrews, soil quality team leader and ecologist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service East National Tech Support Center
  • Adrian Marc Bolliger, advisor for faculty development, German Development Service (DED), Royal University of Agriculture, Cambodia
  • Stéphane Boulakia, tropical agronomist, Project to Support Agricultural Development in Cambodia (PADAC) / Centre de Coopération International en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD), Cambodia
  • Stéphane Chabierski, agronomist, PADAC/CIRAD, Cambodia
  • Maria Helen F. Dayo, gender center director, University of the Philippines-Los Baños(UPLB)
  • Victor B. Ella, professor, College of Engineering and Agro-Industrial Technology, UPLB
  • Charles E. Kome, soil scientist, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service East National Tech Support Center, Greensboro, N.C.
  • Hok Lyda, soil science, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), Cambodia
  • Agustin Mercado, research officer, Landcare Foundation of the Philippines
  • Kou Phally, agronomist, PADAC,
  • Chuong Sophal, dean, Department of Agronomy, RUA
  • San Sona, agronomist, PADAC
  • Osei Yeboah, associate professor, Department of Agribusiness, Applied Economics and Agriscience Education, NCA&T


Degraded landscapes are expanding annually in Cambodia and the Philippines, decreasing agricultural productivity, which in turn heightens food insecurity and exacerbates poverty. In both countries, rural poverty is increasing pressure on natural resources like forests, soil, and water. This project will show how conservation agriculture principles and practices of minimal soil disturbance, continual mulching, and crop rotations can be adapted for local conditions as the best practices to create sustainable, permanent cropping systems for annual crop production under wet tropical conditions.

The project’s hypothesis is that such best practices are technologically feasible, economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and gender-responsive, not only contributing to the food security of small farming communities in Cambodia and the Philippines but also reducing the labor burden on women. This hypothesis will be tested by the following research objectives: to assess soil quality and measure crop yield and biomass from conservation agriculture production systems (CAPS) and compare them with results from conventional plow-based systems in Cambodia and the Philippines; to identify field- and farm-level CAPS that will minimize costs and risks for small-scale farmers while maximizing benefits and adoption; to pinpoint gendered limitations and advantages that can promote adoption of CAPS and determine how CAPS will affect farm women’s situations; to quantify the effectiveness of SANREM-supported farmer groups in training knowledge leaders, being a means of knowledge transmission, and facilitating network connections leading to widespread adoption of CAPS; and to find out whether a microcredit approach and a method to facilitate access for mechanized direct seed drilling and spraying can be successful in promoting adoption of conservation agriculture in Cambodia.

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