Conservation agriculture is making a difference for smallholder farmers in Cambodia. A series of workshops is helping women farmers learn to package and market produce they have grown using the system of conservation agriculture that promotes minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of a year-round soil cover, and crop rotation.
During the workshops in Siem Reap, farmers gather under the shade of temporary classroom structures in the countryside, working together to package vegetables for sale. They also collaborate to draw up their own label and logo that is then attached to their sustainably grown vegetables.
With the techniques these women have learned and applied to their vegetable plots, they have seen their produce rise in quality and amount. Research results from this project showed that plots utilizing conservation agriculture are a significant improvement over traditional farming practices through reduced labor, less weeds, and enhancement of soil quality.
The workshops are hosted by SANREM’s “Long-Term Research Activity for Food Security in Cambodia and the Philippines,” which began in May 2013 with 15 women farmers and expanded to 30 farmers in August 2014. Principal Investigator Manny Reyes of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, staff from the Agriculture Development Denmark Asia, and field technician Ren Ry, who were in charge of initial conservation agriculture training, teamed up with Buntong Borarin from the Royal University of Agriculture for the packaging workshops.
“We’re so encouraged to see how quickly the women have adopted these new practices,” said Reyes. “We have learned that they are sharing these practices with other women who weren’t at the workshops, which is exactly what we had hoped.”
Now, thanks to the hard work and determination of both Cambodian farmers and SANREM team members, smallholder farmers in Siem Reap are well on their way to inventing their own bright future of conservation agriculture and food security.
Photos by Ren Ry