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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Planting machinery imports set to improve rice farming

Planting machinery imports set to improve rice farming

090604_14.jpg
090604_14.jpg

Farming experts say imported technology will increase paddy yields,

with demonstrations set to take place in three provinces through 2012

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

The new planting technology, imported from Brazil using French financial aid, will cut the need for manual labour and increase rice yields, said farming experts.

THE Ministry of Agriculture on Wednesday said it plans to show farmers a new agricultural technology that would allow them to cultivate rice without ploughing, saving time while drastically improving annual yields.

In the next three years, the ministry plans to demonstrate this technology on 500 hectares of land over three provinces, said Som Lorn, deputy director at the Department of Horticulture.

With €2.5 million (US$3.55 million) in aid from the French development agency AFD, the Cambodian government is using part of the funding to import 11 machines that would produce rice harvests without manual ploughing. Stephane Boulakia, an AFD expert from the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD), said on Wednesday that each of the machines, which are imported from Brazil, costs $11,000.

The first demonstrations, set for 2009, will be in three arid districts of Battambang province, he said.

We want ... to

distribute this new technology ... as widely as possible.

"We will show them [farmers] this new technology to grow rice ... to reduce the labour required to cultivate," said Som Lorn. "It will help maintain the quality of the land and increase the rice yield."

A pilot project in Kampong Cham province's Dambaer district showed that the new technology would allow farmers to grow rice all year round, even without a sophisticated irrigation system, and could double or triple the yield. In Dambaer, farmers were able to cultivate 6 tonnes per hectare, instead of only two or three under conventional methods, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

"We want to show these machines in provinces with rice-growing potential so that more farmers can see and learn ... as well as practise on them in order to increase rice yield," said Som Lorn.

Bouy Chhornheng, an agronomy professor at Fanta Francois school in Takeo province, said that the new technology could protect the land and was an important long-term investment for agricultural production in Cambodia.

"We want the ministry to distribute this new technology for growing rice as widely as possible across the country. We do not want farmers  ploughing their land for cultivation like at present. This conventional method will wash away fertility from the land and lead to less rice production," he said. 

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