Sustainable Intensification and Diversification in the Lowland Rice System in Northwest Cambodia
Beginning in November 2016, this project will run for five years. It is focused on the Banteay Meanchey, Battambang and Pursat provinces in northwestern Cambodia. In 2010, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey were Cambodia’s largest rice-producing provinces and the three provinces account for 27 percent of Cambodia’s wet season rice production. This project aims to work with local communities to enhance sustainable intensification and diversification to improve productivity and livelihood security for farmers. The core problem to be addressed by the “Sustainable Intensification and Diversification in the Lowland Rice System in Northwest Cambodia” project is low productivity and reduced income in rain-fed lowland rice systems in Northwest Cambodia, which contribute to poor livelihoods and food insecurity.
There are many challenges to the adoption of innovative intensified and diversified crop production methods. These include biotic and abiotic crop yield constraints, inadequate availability of suitable varieties of good rice seed and access to markets for non-rice crops. Compounding this is a general lack of knowledge, insufficient skills to implement crop intensification and diversification options, limited training in rural topics in the educational system, limited business and financial expertise, and uncoordinated educational and extension infrastructure.
Our vision is increased income for farmers and stronger businesses that are more sustainable and resilient, with diversified sources of income in 5–15 years’ time. The central research question is:
What community engagement processes, participatory research processes and local partnerships will support and sustain farmer and wider stakeholder involvement in developing more sustainable intensification and diversification innovations?
This project addresses the following questions:
- What key constraints to farmers and other stakeholders restrict engagement in the development of more sustainable intensification and diversification innovations that will increase productivity and livelihoods?
- How do participatory processes improve the effective engagement of farmers and wider stakeholders in the development of more sustainable intensification and diversification innovations?
- What scaling models are most effective for sharing sustainable intensification and diversification innovations?
- How can identified processes for (ii) and (iii) be embedded in extension education and training?
Community impacts relate to changes in social, economic, or environmental conditions due to the uptake of project outputs by collaborators outside the project.
- Memoranda of Understanding have been negotiated by the project with Ockenden in Banteay Meanchey and with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) in Battambang.
- As of the beginning of 2018, the project is engaged with five communities in Battambang. Collaboration with VSO will allow project innovations to be directly extended to a total of 13 Farmer Associations in Battambang.
Through on-farm demonstrations, the project is connecting with smallholder farming communities to grow two short duration rice crops (where irrigation water is available) and a non-rice crop on residual soil water to increase and diversify their income sources.
The project works with 10 communities in the target region through Participatory Rural Appraisal following a baseline survey to identify local practices, needs and opportunities. These communities have expressed a strong interest in participating in on-farm trials which will assist farmers to adopt more sustainable and profitable production practices by benchmarking against the Sustainable Rice Platform Standard.
Training smallholder farmers in handling fertilizers will increase the efficiency of fertilizer use and reduce the risks of nutrient pollution on land and in water. Farmers are being trained to identify beneficial and destructive insects/diseases and weeds and to implement integrated pest management practices.
Studies and publications
- A survey of weed seed contamination of rice paddy in Cambodia. R.J. Martin, F. Van Ogtrop, Y. Henson, K. Broeum, R. Rien, P. Sraen & D. K. Y. Tan (2017).
- Weed research issues, challenges, and opportunities in Cambodia. R.J. Martin (2017).