When Lukluk last spoke with Senghorng Tout he was working with VSA volunteer Clint Smythe to develop the Cambodia Melon Growers Association in partnership with global development organisation iDE.
Now, three years later, the association is on track to being self-sustaining and Senghorng is still working with iDE and Clint, but this time the crops are carrots, and the aim is to build climate change resilience.
There are plenty of benefits to growing carrots as a crop says Senghorng. “Carrots are one of the newest crops in our provinces and a lot of people didn’t believe they could be grown in Cambodia’s climate. But they have many advantages compared to other crops, including high interest from consumers. Instead of imported carrots, and farmers enjoy higher prices and demand from the market.
He says the project is already showing many benefits. “The work we are doing includes water saving through use of drip irrigation and micro-irrigation, and it allows farmers to grow off-season through seed strain testing, trellising and plastic and biodegradable mulch.
“We’re also applying climate-resilient horticulture technologies and practices including composting and water storage techniques, and trialing other starch crops as an alternative to rice. “And last but not least, there’s investment in things like greenhouses, net houses, and hydroponics.”
As with his work helping to develop the melon industry, Clint’s immense breadth of experience in horticulture from the farm through to marketing board governance, has helped drive the project.
“Clint was our main mentor for this crop as he used to be a carrot grower,” says Senghorng, “He’s the one who produced the production protocol including crop care and fertigation programme.”
That sentiment is echoed by Market System Manager CHHUON Sopheap who describes Clint as a “mentor” in his work to create and supply high quality, locally sourced seed raising mix to local farmers.
Clint returns to New Zealand this year, leaving behind friends and colleagues who will be treasured forever, but will that be the end of his volunteering journey – we suspect not!
Long Mean talks about growing carrots: youtube.com/watch?v=nCJQufGE9Yg