In this month of October, we will talk about our colleagues from APDRA and their field partners from Trailblazer Cambodia Organization (TCO), an NGO that is heavily involved in agricultural and aquaculture development in Cambodia. These partners are based in Siem Reap, where they and members of CIRAD and IRD are carrying out rice-fish farming activities as part of the DéFIP and AquaCam projects. Malibopha and his TCO team, despite the difficulties associated with the Covid 19 pandemic, carried out a survey on the perceived integration of fish farming with rice farming in a short period of time. The objective of the survey was to understand the perceptions of rice farmers about rice-fish farming. The aim was to identify the advantages and disadvantages that would help or hinder the adoption of this system by farmers. This phase is essential to assess the potential for adopting an innovation and to weigh up the factors influencing the choice of adoption.
This survey was carried out in Siem Reap province, a region where the effects of alternating floods and droughts are very pronounced, and 250 rice farmers from 23 villages were interviewed. The results are very numerous and interesting, but the descriptive and statistical analysis is only at the beginning; nevertheless, it is interesting to observe that 78% of the farmers interviewed do not know about rice-fish co-culture and only 10% practice or have practiced this production system. More than 60% of the interviewees fish in their rice fields and use this ecosystem resource for family consumption.
A new study, this time in a more intensive rice-growing area with larger farms, will be carried out soon. The visit to the DéFIP and AquaCAM project pilots showed how important ecosystem involvement is for this type of proposed aquaculture. It is a fish production (silver barb) without inputs (no feed) based exclusively on the natural production of rice fields. The neo-fish farmers strive to offer their fish various food resources from the surrounding ecosystem (termite mounds, composting aquatic plants). This aquaculture activity – which is aimed at small farmers – is developing in a very heterogeneous context and the results can be strongly influenced by variables that are difficult to control. Continuous feedback and contact with the farmers is very important in order to obtain solid and scientifically robust results. The arrival on site of Dorian Dejace, from APDRA, will allow us to reinforce this activity by contacting the farmers involved in the two projects and to ensure a meticulous follow-up of the pilots.
Of course, all the other activities of the AquaCAM project are progressing, so the analyses on the Takeo and Siem Reap pilots, as well as the sampling in the silver barb farms (from the wild) for the detection of FBTs are continuing. The activities for the selection of sustainability indicators are almost completed as well as the analyses on the sanitary inspection grid and the microbiological analyses carried out in the laboratory of the ITC partner of the project continue with the arrival of the new students.