Australia has been investing in Cambodia’s agricultural productivity for more than 30 years. Over the past seven years, Australian support has helped markets work better for smallholder farmers, especially by partnering with the private sector to improve information available to farmers and to promote the use of new technologies.
The Cambodian Agricultural Value Chain Program (CAVAC) builds partnerships that help farmers adopt modern farming practices that can improve their yields and incomes – and to open their access to more lucrative markets.
Attracting innovators to develop ideas that will help Cambodian farmers
The ICT4Ag competition has been touring campuses throughout Cambodia to encourage teams to work together to solve agricultural problems. The competition, closing on February 25, will offer US$5,000 to five winning teams to develop their idea further, along with mentoring to help bring their idea to prototype or even implementation.
Partnering with manufacturers to introduce new technology.
CAVAC is promoting the use of mechanisation to help farmers grow more rice with less labour, an increasingly urgent priority as rural labour drifts to the construction boom in the cities.
CAVAC has partnered with a local company, Agri-Smart, that is making a mechanical rice seed planter, a very cost-effective innovation that was recently granted a US patent. It can be attached to the two wheel tractors many farmers already own, and can plant seeds evenly even in the wet soil that covers much of Cambodia.
Mechanical seeding has many benefits: the seeds are pushed into the ground, safe from pests and rodents, and are planted in neat rows making weeding much easier. But the main benefit is that they use far fewer seeds than broadcasting by hand.
Experience in other countries has shown that mechanical planters can reduce the seed rate by as much as 20-60 kilograms per hectare, reducing costs to farmers and increasing the likelihood that they will buy new seeds, thus raising the quality of paddy for milling and trade.
To encourage the spread of this technology, CAVAC is supporting Agri-Smart to hold field demonstrations and a range of other marketing activities.
To learn more about how these machines can improve yields using fewer seeds you can watch our video on www.youtube.com/cavackh.