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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Permacult proves profitable

Permacult proves profitable

Initiatives to solve environmental problems using the new concept of

Permaculture are proving successful in Cambodia.

Permaculture is both a

philosophy and a practical approach to land use in response to soil, water and

air pollution, loss of species, reduction of non-renewable resources and

destructive economic policies.

It aims to design sustainable human

settlements and weaves together micro climate, plants, animals, soils, water

management and human needs into integrated productive

communities.

Australian Catholic Relief (ACR) have already put a first

batch of students through an international Permaculture design

course.

Takeo province workers Trudi and John Muir invited Australian

Rosemary Morrow to come and teach the eighteen women and men.

Trudi Muir

is using Permaculture as a medium for community development since "it builds

self-reliance, uses local resources, encourages cooperation and can be applied

to any piece of land."

The course was held at the ACR farm center and

attended by farmers, school teachers and community workers.

It involved

excursions to nearby villages and farms. Videos were shown in the local video

shop, attended by anyone interested.

The main tasks for the course

participants were to design or redesign their own piece of land and to design a

larger piece of land - in this case the local school grounds.

In

addition, students had to demonstrate an understanding of soil, water, and

biological conservation whilst achieving food self-sufficiency leading to high

yields and increases in income.

"The results were challenging as each

day, in the second week, more people came to attend the class. Participants had

built gardens and experimented with new design principles," said a spokesperson

for ACR.

"(They became) more impressed with the relevance of Permaculture

to simultaneously solving problems of hunger and malnutrition whilst

rehabilitating the environment from water pollution and soil

erosion."

The school venture saw the school gardens and fishponds

supplying food for children, models for the villagers and income for the

teachers.

The school environment is set to be improved by shade,

settlement of dust and some micro climate modification from the

ponds.

The ACR center has also been transformed and has gone from being

"a place of bare compacted earth, wind blown and low in biological resources, to

an oasis with chinampas, rainwater tanks, fruit trees, herbs, canals, fish-duck

aqua culture, shade and windbreaks," said the spokesperson. " In only six months

the transformation is amazing."

Other Permaculture initiatives have been

taken by the Women's Association of Cambodia who requested a course in Pursat

province.

Funded by the Quaker Service of Australia and AIDAB the course

is running as part of the UNICEF family food production program.

The

Australian Embassy has funded a one month course at the Jesuit Refugee Service

Farm.

The 30 attendees were Cambodian employees from expatriate and Khmer

NGOs. A draft Permaculture manual in Khmer will be a result of this

course.

Other results will be more Permaculture gardens designed for and

tested for sustainability in Cambodia and people competent to teach Permaculture

courses in Khmer.

The ACR spokesperson said: "Permaculture is spreading

fast throughout the world and is everywhere in great demand."

"In

Cambodia, it appears to be fitting easily into existing organizations and

complements present practice and knowledge."

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