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