Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biomass a benefit to rural Cambodia

Biomass a benefit to rural Cambodia

Biomass a benefit to rural Cambodia

120925_10
Women sort out coconut shells in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district earlier this year. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post

Rural Cambodian communities are seeing economic benefits as a result of a biomass and farming resilience project run by GERES, a French NGO.

As part of the AREA project, 200 households in Kampong Chhnang province are growing 22 varieties of trees to negate the effects of deforestation, including the shortage of fuel wood.

Mathieu Van Rijn, the program director for AREA, outlined the further economic benefits of the project beyond their participating households.

“Many small artisan palm sugar producers depend on locally available and low cost wood to sustain their businesses. The further energy sources have to travel to the end user, the higher the price is. Low cost, locally available fuel wood sustains local businesses beyond our project participants.”

Cambodia is abundant in biofuel sources, such as sugarcane and coconut shells; however, they need to be planted on a large scale, using land that can be used for food, according to Van Rijn.

“Sugarcane requires the need for industrial-scale plantations, supply chains and a dedicated processing industry to create ethanol,” he said. “Users would need specific equipment to use the ethanol for cooking and would be competing with an international market.”

“Coconut shells can be used alongside our plants. The more renewable and sustainable sources of biomass used, the better. But, they’re not available everywhere,” said Van Rijn.

A closed cycle of local biomass use and supply ensures that the project is not at odds with food security efforts in Cambodia.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation is currently offering technical assistance to the ASEAN secretariat to ensure that bioenergy production does not infringe on food production in the region, according to it’s website, which states: “Bioenergy also offers opportunities to increase incomes and employment in rural areas, provided that appropriate policies and investments are put in place to enable smallholders to take advantage of growing biofuel markets.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Erika Mudie at [email protected]

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a