Little Tweaks, Big Difference

Sometimes all it takes is a tweak here and there for farmers to see better results from their tried-and-true crops. This was the case in the new World Hope International (WHI) program among indigenous Bunong people in Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia’s far eastern region.

For example, farmers who grow cabbage face many pest and disease challenges. One of these, the diamond-back moth, can cause significant crop loss, and the over-use of pesticides is creating resistance problems.

Initial results of on-farm trials with an alternative in the brassica family have been promising: farmers have been able to grow broccoli without using any pesticides. The moth does feed on broccoli, but only the outer leaves, without damaging the florets. Encouraged by these early results, five farmers are now trialing broccoli on a commercial scale. One, Mr. Vanthon, says, “It is great to have a crop I can grow that does not have so many pest problems.”

Another big improvement is in carrot production. Farmers have tried growing carrots in the rainy season but traditionally-available seed, coupled with a lack of technical skill, meant carrots did not perform well, rotting in the ground. WHI introduced new carrot cultivars well-suited to wetter soils and provided technical training.

Mr. Long Ny, an early adopter, conducted an on-farm trial, planting 10 rows of the seed he’s used in the past, and two rows of a newer variety. At harvest time his traditional cultivar produced 4.4 pounds per 10.7 sq. ft., while the improved seed yielded 7.5 pounds. Says Mr. Long Ny, “I am very happy to find another crop I can grow in the rainy season without using pesticides.” Since carrots in general have fewer pest and disease issues than cabbage, he is shifting more of his farming operation to carrots because he can manage a larger area with fewer inputs.

Mr. Long Ny has been visiting other farmers in the area and telling them about his success. He is inspecting their carrot crops and sharing tips on what they need to do to improve production. Farmers providing peer-to-peer training from real experience is a very effective way to increase outreach.

Cambodia Mondulkiri Program
Led by World Hope International

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