Photographer's Note


Rice yield in Cambodia is among the lowest in Asia. Growing rice has become the major source of income for Cambodian farmers. Because Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest countries, about two-thirds of the workforce in Cambodia are farmers. Rice in Cambodia is not only a major source of income, but also provides many Cambodians with a supply of food. In the 60’s during a period of political stability following independence from the French in 1953, Cambodia was a major rice exporting nation and it has been considered as a rice bowl of SE Asia. By 1975, when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge, the area under rice had declined by 77% and rice production had decreased by 84% of the 1970 level. Only 40 of the 400 pre-war qualified agriculturalists remained in the country at this time and most of the research infrastructure was destroyed. Cambodia faced annual rice shortfalls ranging between 50,000 and 200,000 tons during the 1980’s. The green revolution had virtually passed by Cambodia and its farmers continued to use traditional practices, many of which had been in operation for over a thousand years. To make matters worse, the Pol Pot policy of dislocating the farmers from their accustomed ecosystems resulted in many of the traditional rice varieties being lost. Cambodian farmers desperately needed access to improved technologies. However, there were few technicians capable of developing or adapting higher yielding practices for Cambodian conditions, a national technology evaluation system was non existent and agricultural extension was under-resourced. The good news is today Cambodian farmers are able to produce enough rice to help feed their country and to be exported.

Because rice is such an important factor in helping to fix world hunger, certain farming techniques should be improved to increase rice production. In Cambodia, rice production and cultivation could be improved if farmers are able to manage their water and land use. However, data collection for rice cultivation improvement in the war-torn nation is difficult due to the lack of trained personnel. In addition, while agriculture is the predominant economic sector in Cambodia, the amount of land used for agricultural purposes is only a small proportion of the total available.

Besides, representatives of international and of foreign relief organizations are not permitted to travel beyond Phnom Penh, except with special permission, because of security and logistics problems.

Although Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world, with some help, it may be able to help end world hunger. Of course the small country is not able to do this on its own, but with a little help from their government and surrounding communities it may be able to assist in this difficulty.

Photo: farmers are harvesting their floating rice at Phnum Kraom near Tonle Sap Great Lake, which floods and expands its banks in September or early October.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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