A net housing concept that helps grow crops in favourable conditions all year-round be a solution as the Kingdom's growers suffer from the impacts of climate change.
Cambodian farmers are redefining farming models with an agricultural innovation that could usher in a new era for the sector.
By installing net housing farmers can produce a supply of high-quality vegetables throughout the year even with unfavourable weather conditions.
Tropicam Irrigation Solutions Co Ltd has tested growing crops under net housing and found significant improvements to farm productivity.
So far it has been rewarding for growers.
The net housing, which acts as a natural climate controller, helps increase yields and makes it possible for year-around planting, which can lead to improvements in farmers’ incomes.
Teaming up with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the company has installed 200 net houses in 20 provinces under phase one since the project was launched in June.
Tropicam has also partnered with Netafim, an Israeli specialist in drip irrigation systems that works closely with farming communities across the globe. Under the partnership, Netafim provides technology and consultancy to Tropicam.
Tropicam CEO Lor Ngy told The Post that, in the second phase, another 200 net houses have been earmarked for installation by next year.
“There is a need to install net houses in farms across the country because farmers using traditional methods suffer during heavy rains or hot weather.
“Crops are damaged and harvests are not stable. This affects quality, with consumers tending to then buy imported vegetables,” he said.
He added that as well as installing net houses, Tropicam specialises in irrigation to improve agricultural outputs.
With the 10mx24m net housing, farmers can now grow leafy vegetables such as pak choi, kailan and spinach.
Local farmers often suffer from the impacts of climate change, with prolonged dry spells or the late arrival of rain affecting both output and quality.
This leads to a scarcity of vegetables and triggers price fluctuations in the market.
With the recent heavy rains having wreaked havoc on farmland, the innovation could prove hugely beneficial.
The National Committee for Disaster Management reported that some 85,348ha of rice fields and 47,232 of other crops were destroyed during the flooding from September 1 to October 27.
And as well as protecting crops against ravages of heat, rain and insects, the net housing can also allow for multiple plantings throughout the year, Ngy said.
“These net houses allow farmers to grow seven times a year, whether during the rainy or hot seasons.
“We can help raise the performance of the agricultural sector to another level, with this project able to help supply vegetables for the country and thus reduce imports,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia needs some 573 tonnes of vegetables a day, with local farmers producing around 400 tonnes and the remainder being imported.
Last year, around 85 tonnes of vegetables were imported from Vietnam and 45 from Thailand, with 40 tonnes brought in from China.