Published on Dec 03, 2018
Assisting the agriculture sector in Cambodia has long been a focus of InSTEDD iLab Southeast Asia. Finding the right technological solutions that farmers can use and benefit from has been a challenge that many have tried to solve in recent years. The iLab organized an iCamp dedicated to assisting farmers from May to August 2018. Prior to the event, the team conducted four meetings with different groups of local farmers to understand their goals and the challenges they face.
Based on the insights gained from these meetings, the iLab team identified several areas of focus for the upcoming iCamp. These included improving financial literacy for farmers, educating them on the proper use of pesticides and insecticides, facilitating communication channels with farming experts for advice, and providing education on practical farming techniques. It was also evident that most farmers had little to no experience using technology such as smartphones.
The 10th iCamp on agriculture was organized to validate the information gathered and enhance the team's knowledge about the current situation, aiming to find impactful solutions for local farmers. The event brought together a diverse group of participants, including provincial officials, local organizations, and farmers themselves. The objective was to gain a comprehensive understanding not only from the farmers' perspectives but also from the government and local organizations, fostering open and productive discussions among all stakeholders.
During the iCamp, the information gathered from farmers was verified by local organizations and government officials. Some key findings included: 1. An agriculture community and communication channel had been established but were not effectively utilized. 2. A local farming expert from a government institution was available to assist farmers but had limited equipment for fieldwork.
Farmers expressed their desire for innovative solutions, such as having access to adequate materials for soil testing to determine the appropriate fertilizer type. They also expressed the need for a knowledge center on platforms like Facebook chat, where they could seek advice from farming experts and connect easily with other farmers in their community.
Looking ahead to better utilize our agricultural land
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, the current agricultural land in Cambodia covers 3,993,448 hectares. The 2013 Census of Agriculture in Cambodia reported that there are 3,304,738 agricultural households (with a minimum land size of 300 square meters) across the country, while an additional 1.68 million households utilize the surrounding areas around their homes for plantation, covering 215,329 hectares. On average, these smaller lots account for approximately 0.13 hectares per home.
Despite the significant amount of agricultural land available, Cambodia still imports around 100,000 tons of fresh vegetables annually from Vietnam, amounting to approximately 200 million US dollars, according to the Voice of Vietnam website.