Photo by: Teip Seiha
By: Vorn Makara
Under the light of the sun around 3o’clock, a man wearing white shirt and short trouser with yellow hat, is transplanting rice seeding in his own farm with many other villagers and CEDAC staffs. Pum Tak, 25, a farmer, is living in San Tey 2 village, Kak commune, Ponhea Kraek district, Kampong Cham province. Having got the training from CEDAC about Ecological System of Rice Intensification (SRI), he starts practicing this new system on his own farm this year.
“If I get the high rice products this year, next year I will continue doing this new system [SRI] on my whole farm land,” said Pum Tak.
After getting the fund support from European Union (EU) around 2,333,709.00 Euro, Plan Cambodia cooperates with CEDAC to implement a five-year project titled “Promoting Climate Resilient Livelihoods for Small-Scale Farmers in Most vulnerable Dry Land Areas in Siem Reap and Kampong Cham province.” This project starts from January 2011 until December 2015, and it will implement on 325 villages, 31 communes cross 6 districts in Siem Reap and Kampong Cham province. There are around 15,000 small-scale farmer families will get direct benefits from this project.
This project aims to improve the capacity of farmers and the relevant local authorities to respond effectively to climate change, drought and soil degradation in a manner that will ensure a sustainable increase if their agricultural product, eradicate of extreme poverty and hunger among small-scale farmer families in dry land area.
“We want to increase the small-scale farmer families’ living standard in Kampong Cham and Siem Reap province from 25% to 60%. Second, we want to reduce the poverty from 26% to 20 %, and we also want to reduce their hunger from 6 months to 1 month,” said Mey Monysetha, Program officer at Plan Cambodia.
Providing people living in Dambae and Ponhea Kraek district at Kampong Cham province with SRI training is one of the plans that CEDAC is doing in order to reach the five-year project. This year is the beginning of training farmers there to practice system of Rice Intensification (SRI); therefore, there are not many villagers using SRI. Some villagers, who have visited other villagers doing SRI, are testing this system since he thinks it is beneficial.
Morl Meourn, Ta Prang village chief, has been to Prey Veng Province to visit the farm practicing SRI methods said, “ I think this system is good, and I also recommend other villagers to use SRI technique in farming,” adding that, currently he have tested SRI on his land 20 A.
However, Chem Kheang, villager in San Tey 2, said that she is happy to see Plan Cambodia cooperated with CEDAC in helping the farmers by training SRI technique, but she has not practiced this system yet. “If villagers here use this system in their farm and get high rice production, next year I will test this system on my land,” she added.
Based on the experiment from CEDAC, using SRI in farming at Takeo and Prey Veng province, farmers can get the double rice production. Moreover, they spend less rice seeds by reducing from 60 kg to 15 kg per hectare, but it requires hard working and patience.
Hour Sreng, Program officer in CEDAC based in Kampong Cham said that farmers using SRI can get the rice production around three tons per hectare, but if they do traditional farming, they can get only 1 ton per hectare. “In Kampong Cham is not different from these provinces [Prey Veng and Takeo], farmers will get the high rice production because CEDAC has already experimented the land in these area,” “we just adjust what farmer are doing [traditional farming], we do not give the new technique for them,” he said.
SRI has been practiced in some provinces and it has provided farmers with the good result but most of farmers in Kampong Cham province are still reluctant in adopting and using this system since they are not familiar yet.
“Farmers here don’t pay much attention in practicing SRI because they have lots of lands and other works besides farming. Moreover, they normally use traditional farming technique. And, SRI spends more time than traditional farming,” said, Beurn Sokh, Council of Dambae district.
He also continued that, among 85% of farmers in Dambae district, there are a small number of farmers using SRI methods. “The rest of the farmers will use SRI, unless they see the real results, getting high rice productions and spend less time,” he said.
By enabling high rice yield with reducing water requirement and low price, the numbers of farmers using SRI methods start increasing. According to the research from CEDAC in 2008, there are more than 100, 000 Cambodia farmers have involved in SRI methods. There are 14 steps in using SRI methods. Yet, the main thing is to select the good rice seeds for sowing. It is true that there will be a challenge for farmers in changing the habits of doing traditional farming to use SRI methods, but when the results come out with a high rice production making them get lots of benefits, they will adapt that system.