Assisting the agriculture space in Cambodia has long been a focus of the InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia. Finding the right technological solutions that farmers use and benefit from has been a challenge that many have tried to solve in recent years.
The iLab held an iCamp dedicated to aiding farmers during a period from May to August of 2018. Leading up the event, the team held four meetings with different groups of local farmers to learn more about their goals and the challenges that they face.
Meeting with a group of farmers in Koh Thom, Kandal province
Following the four group meetings with farmers, the iLab team came up with different areas to focus on during the upcoming iCamp. These areas included: financial literacy for farmers, educating the proper use of pesticides and insecticides, opening up communication channels to farming experts for advice, and educating on practical farming techniques. Lastly, it was clear that the farmers had little to no experience using technology like smartphones.
Onefarmer in Koh Thom, Kandal province discussing with the InSTEDD team about his experience and issues that he is facing while growing crops.
Meeting with a farmer community in Kroko, Pursat province.
A farmer in Kroko district, Pursat province is calculating his profits and expenses on a smartphone
We set up the 10th iCamp on agriculture to verify the information we received, build our knowledge on the current situation, and help find impactful solutions for local farmers. Our diverse group of attendants included province officials, local organizations, and farmers themselves. We wanted to better understand what was happening not just from the anecdotes of the farmers, but also to understand what is being done on the side of government and local organizations, and to create a free-flowing conversation between the different actors involved.
Farmers addressing their current challenge during one of the sessions of the iCamp event.
The local organizations and government officials helped to verify some of the information that we gathered previously with the farmers, such as: 1. An agriculture community and channel of communication have been created but are not effective. 2. A local farming expert from the government institution is available to help, but has very limited equipment to be used in the field.
Local organization staff writing about what they want to see happening in their community in the future.
Innovative methods that the farmers would love to see include having adequate materials to test their soil, to better understand the type of fertilizer needed. They also expressed a desire to have a knowledge center in Facebook chat where they can access advice from farming experts who can help solve their questions, and also to have an way to easily connect with other farmers in their community.
iCamp participants and event facilitators from InSTEDD at the end of the session.
Looking ahead to better use of our farming land:
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, in Cambodia, the land that is currently used for agriculture accounts for 3,993,448 hectares. According to the Census of Agriculture in Cambodia in 2013, the number of agricultural households (with a minimum land size of 300 square meters) account for 3,304,738 hectares country wide, while the other 1.68 millions households are utilizing their surrounding area around their home for plantation and account for 215,329 hectares. On average, the small lots around the area average around 0.13 hectares per home lot. However, according to Voice of Vietnam website, Cambodia still imports fresh vegetables from Vietnam to the tune of 100,000 tons annually, which are the equivalent to 200 million US dollars.