CoolBots making news in Cambodia

While the Horticulture Innovation Lab team was recently in Cambodia for its 2016 annual meeting, reporter Jonathon Cox of the Khmer Times in Phnom Penh reached out to learn more about how farmers in Cambodia are using the CoolBot. He had heard about the device at the recent Cambodia Science & Engineering Festival.

The article Cox wrote, “Helping Farmers Keep Their Cool” was published in the newspaper this week.

For it, he interviewed Elizabeth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis, about the program’s use of the CoolBot in Cambodia.

“I think that cooling is essential to develop a vibrant produce industry in Cambodia based on local products,” Mitcham said. Current estimates suggest Continue reading CoolBots making news in Cambodia

Successful postharvest symposium in Cambodia

Approximately 120 people attended the “Southeast Asia Symposium on Quality Management in Postharvest Systems” held in August in Cambodia, sponsored in part by the Horticulture Innovation Lab. The conference was held under the auspices of the International Society for Horticultural Science with conference leadership by Borarin Buntong of the Royal University of Agriculture.

The first morning was attended by H.E. Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State and the representative of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Sandra Stajka, USAID/Cambodia’s Director of Food Security and Environment Office, among other dignitaries.

Elizabeth Mitcham, Horticulture Innovation Lab director, provided a keynote speech about postharvest handling of horticultural crops in developing countries. Other partners of the Horticulture Innovation Lab also Continue reading Successful postharvest symposium in Cambodia

Event: International postharvest symposium in Cambodia

Update: The deadline to submit an abstract has been extended to June 30, with early registration available until July 15.

Cambodia will be the setting for the International Society for Horticultural Science’s third “Southeast Asia Symposium on Quality Management in Postharvest Systems.” The symposium will be Aug. 13-15 in Siem Reap.

This ISHS event will highlight innovations related to postharvest aspects of the horticultural value chain, including food safety, reducing postharvest losses, processing, fresh-cut, packaging, microbiology, supply chain management, and seed quality.

May 30 June 30 is the deadline to submit an abstract.

Who is participating

Agricultural scholars from universities, government ministries, and non-governmental organizations will attend, from countries throughout Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. University students are also encouraged to participate.

“This is a great chance for students to publish and learn a lot about new technologies and new research—especially for students in Cambodia, since there’s not many chances for them to go abroad to other international conferences,” said Borarin Buntong, one of the organizers. Continue reading Event: International postharvest symposium in Cambodia

Reducing drudgery while improving soil for Cambodian vegetable farmers

A version of this article originally appeared in the Feed the Future newsletter.

Most commonly used with field crops, conservation agriculture combines three practices that help farmers invest in soil health, specifically:

  1. minimal soil disturbance (“no till”),
  2. continuous mulch cover, and
  3. rotating diverse crops.

These practices can also reduce labor and reduce water evaporation from the soil.

Manuel Reyes, professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, has helped farmers in many countries improve their soil and use water efficiently. In doing so, he has also partnered with three Feed the Future Innovation Labs, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Beginning in 2010, Reyes started working with farmers in Cambodia on conservation agriculture for field crops, with an international team supported by the SANREM Innovation Lab. Two year later, the team worked with 56 households over 149 hectares to use conservation agriculture principles.

IMG_9039 eds
Women farmers in Cambodia are combining drip irrigation with conservation agriculture to grow vegetables with less drudgery, while improving soil health. (Photo by Manuel Reyes, NC A&T)

After testing conservation agriculture practices with vegetable crops in the United States, Reyes expanded his conservation agriculture work in Cambodia to focus on vegetable farmers. Now with additional funding from the Horticulture Innovation Lab, he added drip irrigation to conservation agriculture practices for vegetable farmers. This research sought to find whether combining these practices could reduce labor needs, increase yield, increase income and ultimately receive support from vegetable farmers.

For field trials in Cambodia, women farmers grew a variety of vegetables, including string beans, cucumber, Chinese cabbage, kale, tomatoes and eggplant. Continue reading Reducing drudgery while improving soil for Cambodian vegetable farmers

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. Continue reading Visiting Cambodia: Conservation agriculture and marketing by motorbike