Visiting Cambodia: Conservation agriculture and marketing by motorbike

Editor’s note: As our management team members visit Horticulture Innovation Lab partners and research sites in developing countries, we are sharing with you glimpses into their visits, with travel updates and photos.

As director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, I traveled to Cambodia with Manuel Reyes of North Carolina A&T State University to launch a spin-off project related to his earlier research in Cambodia on conservation agriculture and drip irrigation for women vegetable farmers. We visited with several women vegetable farmer groups who have been successfully practicing conservation agriculture in Siem Reap.

photo: team members discuss project

Manny Reyes, right, and two of his team members in Cambodia, Rechaney (left) and Rain (center), discuss progress in the conservation agriculture plots during a meeting with a group of women farmers.

group photo in field in Cambodia

Here is one of the women farmer groups we visited, standing in their conservation agriculture plot and showing the water tank for the drip irrigation system in the background. The farmers needed less labor to manage the conservation agriculture plots due to reduced weeding and watering.

photo: women kneeling, one digging a hole in mulch and the other planting transplants in the soil

The women showed us how they planted the vegetable seedlings and installed the drip irrigation lines. We learned that burying the drip tape under the straw is important to reduce sun degradation of the plastic so it lasts longer.

photo: motorcycle with trailer piled high with bags of vegetables

We also visited the market early in the morning to see produce arrival. We observed a lot of compression damage and wilting due to the poor packaging.

photo: savings group sitting in a circle with a leader reading from a ledger

While in Cambodia, we visited a prior Horticulture Innovation Lab project for which UC Davis researchers established farmer savings groups and introduced new technologies.

photo: man on motorcycle, with bags of vegetables piled behind him and in front of him, getting ready to go

Several farmers in these groups used their savings to invest in insect barrier net houses. Growing vegetables in a protected environment and with safer management methods has led to stable market outlets. Here, this produce was being loaded onto a motorbike for transport to the market. In addition to the bags cinched down on the back and between the driver’s legs, his two sons road on two open spaces on the platform.

In his new project, Dr. Reyes and his team will be working with these women farmer groups using conservation agriculture, to create links with marketing outlets for their vegetables. Information exchanged between the savings group project team and Dr. Reyes will assist in these activities.

(Horticulture Innovation Lab photos by Beth Mitcham)

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Beth Mitcham

Beth Mitcham is the director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, as a faculty member in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences.