In Trapaing Chor commune’s Sre Kin village, located in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district, certain community members have transitioned away from forest-related activities such as logging and wildlife hunting. Instead, they have embraced a new approach by forming a rotating cropping community.

Im Sorn, the village chief, noted that more than 20 farming families are leading this shift, setting an example for their neighbours.

Sorn explained that these families are coming together to create a small collective within the village. Every villager retains the choice to participate or abstain from joining this initiative. The collective currently manages approximately 30ha of land, dedicating it to rotating crops, which include eggplants, bananas, papayas, sugarcane, peppers, pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers and other crops.

The village chief highlighted that the community’s new focus revolves around daily and monthly crop cultivation and harvesting. Most significantly, they have transitioned from the practices of logging and hunting to the sustainable pursuit of agriculture.

“They aspire to establish a cooperative for crop cultivation. They’ve united former tree loggers in the pursuit of agricultural labour, showing a firm commitment to preserving natural resources,” he said.

Regarding their water source for crop irrigation, Sorn disclosed that the community has invested in water pipes, allowing them to draw water from the base of the Oral Mountains. Consequently, they enjoy a consistent water supply throughout the seasons, ensuring their crops thrive. Their produce is sold in Kampong Speu province and its vicinity, providing an additional source of income derived from farming.

Shifting habits

Tep Nem, Trapeang Chor commune chief, told The Post that the residents of his commune were traditionally involved in mixed activities, encompassing farming, logging and hunting once the rice farming season had concluded. Observing this pattern, efforts were made to shift people’s habits away from logging and hunting. Authorities have consistently disseminated information to help people appreciate the value of forests and wildlife.

Nem said the authorities consistently highlight the advantages of refraining from illegal forest activities, which carry the potential risks of dengue fever, malaria and snake bites. Consequently, individuals have embraced a more lawful pursuit, notably engaging in agricultural farming.

“I take great delight in establishing this farming community, as it signifies a shift away from forest-related transgressions towards legitimate agricultural endeavours. I am genuinely appreciative of their efforts,” he added.

The commune chief noted that Trapaing Chor commune residents frequently benefit from agricultural training provided by officials from the Kampong Speu provincial agriculture department and Oral district authorities.

In relation to farming practices in the commune, provincial agriculture department director Chheang Tola told The Post that the land’s quality in the region is reasonably conducive for the cultivation of agro-industrial crops like cassava, corn and sugarcane.

The agriculture department is actively promoting and providing guidance to farmers to expand their knowledge of cultivating various crops.

“The soil’s nutrient content may deplete over time due to prolonged usage. Therefore, for optimal agricultural yields, it’s imperative to nurture the soil and supplement it with fertilisers to ensure the crops flourish. Relying solely on the unaided natural land doesn’t align with our production goals and may result in reduced profitability,” he explained.