In Por village, Bar Theay district of Kampong Cham on National Road 6, farmers like
Keth Sath, 55, who have spent their lives working in the fields, are now touting
the benefits of organic fertilizer and ecological chicken raising techniques.
Sath quit using costly chemical fertilizers in 2005. With the encouragement of an
agricultural NGO project, he switched to an organic fertilizer he makes himself.
He said the change has saved him 50 percent of his business costs and his crops are
reaping the benefits.
Sath is one of several thousand villagers in 240 villages who are finding improved
living conditions through new agricultural techniques. With organic fertilizer, Sath
said that he has been able to manage land for growing rice and land for growing vegetables,
enabling him to sell more of each.
"My living conditions for the family have improved enough to feed my three grand
children and several others in the family," said Sath. "I make about 1
million riel each year and hope that the crops will continue to increase next year
if there is enough rain."
Sath said that out of the 500 families in Por village, only 30 families like his
agreed to try the new agricultural techniques.
A report of the project from June 2003 to September 2007 found the livelihoods of
farmers in the target area, especially among the poor, were improved.
The report said rice production in the targeted villages increased from 2.1 ton per
year to 2.8 tons per year per household in 2005. The study found that the non-targeted
villages showed little change if any in rice production between 2003 and 2005.
The report also said vegetable production of 3,000 farmers in the targeted villages
increased from 80 kg per year on average to 290 kg per year in 2005.
The project also targeted chicken raising. With ecological chicken raising techniques
including better cages, sanitation and feeding, the project helped 1,600 farmers
raise from 30 to 45 chickens, instead of the 23 chickens produced on average before
the project. The project reduced the chickens' death rate.
The organic fertilizer project is part of the work of an agriculture NGO, Cambodian
Center for the Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC), established in 1997.
CEDAC has encouraged the farmers to use the System of Rice Intensification (SRI)
in which they can increase their yields by using organic manure.
The project is partly funded by the Japanese Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR), said
Lim Sokundarun, Kampong Cham Provincial Program official of CEDAC. JFPR donated $2
million for five years to the project covering 12,434 farming households in 240 villages
in the provinces of Kampong Cham, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Kampong Chhnang.