Residents of the capital’s Meanchey village living near the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) Farm have complained of a persistent, intolerable stench, prompting authorities to intervene.
The farm, located in Meanchey district’s Stung Meanchey I commune, cultivates fly larvae for animal feed. Local residents said the situation began to improve following mediating from commune officials.
Meng Chou, a grocery seller near the farm, said the smell had diminished for the past half month.
“Now, it’s better. Previously, the stench was all over the village. I could not sleep, and everyone needed to cover their noses. I had a headache everyday because of the bad smell. Now, maybe they have some technique to reduce the smell – I don’t know,” she said.
Song Kheng, another nearby resident, said there had been a bad smell every day, but after neighbours complained repeatedly, officials came to the farm and issued instructions to the owner.
“It was a terrible smell, making it difficult for us to live, so we told the farm owner about it. Since authorities inspected the farm, it’s gotten better. The smell travels on the wind. Depending on which direction it blows, the people in that direction will get a stronger smell,” she said.
Local resident Ra Sieng said the smell had not caused major health impacts, but it had made living in the area unpleasant and difficult while the flies caused a nuisance.
“It stinks, and there are flies – it’s nearly unbearable. I kept shouting that it smelled bad. It doesn’t seem to cause any serious disease – it just smells very sour day and night, and we find it difficult to endure. But the last few days have been better,” Sieng said.
Tim Rath, a technician at the BSF Farm, said that raising flies does not harm the environment. On the contrary, it is helpful because flies improve the disposal of perishable waste like organic materials.
“In environmental terms, it helps reduce waste. The downside is the bad smell. As we collect and store vegetable and fruit waste, it produces an odour as it decomposes. But when we process it into our raw materials, there is no longer a problem with the smell,” said Rath.
He said raising flies is very useful for farmers, especially for those raising animals who need livestock feed. The farm’s products are good for feeding chickens, ducks, edible-nest swiftlets and all kinds of fish.
He said flies and larvae are high in protein, which helps animals grow faster, keeps their skin shiny, strengthens their bones and makes them resistant to disease.
“We produce black soldier flies. It is a protein fly and does not harm human health. The larvae we raise are for animal feed, and the waste they leave makes good compost soil,” he said.
Acting commune chief Soeng Mom told The Post on February 16 that authorities had summoned complainants and the farm’s owner for a meeting at the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall the previous day to discuss the farm’s impact on the local community and negotiate a solution.
“On February 15, they negotiated over the problem, and now it is resolved. There was only one complainant present, perhaps because the smell had been worse before, but it seems to have been better contained lately. And besides, this farm will soon be moving to Kean Svay,” she said.
BSF Farm owner Sao Sensamnang said authorities applauded the farm’s work raising flies but noted that the facility must be equipped with mechanisms to prevent odours from affecting the community.
“The meeting was very successful. [Officials] support our efforts to raise many flies and are pleased with their positive environmental impact. But [they] advise using techniques which will stop the bad smell from harming neighbours,” Sensamnang said.