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How digitalisation can improve farmers’ livelihoods

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

How digitalisation can improve farmers’ livelihoods

Many of the most successful app creators in Cambodia have focused their work on agriculture, according to Be Chatra, co-founder and managing partner of EmeraldHUB co-working space. Some experts say as much as 80 percent of Cambodians living outside of the main cities are involved in work related to farming, and there is a growing demand for innovation and technological advancement within the field.

After a year of field work and research in Takeo province, Uk Tom, a Ph.D. candidate at the College of Public Administration within Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said residents of 13 villages in Kirivong district were able to improve their standard of living by using agro technology and products as well as mobile telecommunication. Tom surveyed 2,757 households with a total population of 13,161.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Early Warning System (EWS) officials give a presentation on the app to government officials. Moeun Nhean

“The solutions and activities can be accessed through social media such as Facebook instead of using traditional, verbal, face-to-face communication. This enables the direct contribution to decisions that affect one’s life and social belonging to a network of family, friends and neighbors,” he told The Phnom Penh Post last September.

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Im Saroeun (center) speaking with EU Ambassador George Edgar and government officials. Moeun Nhean

He went on to explain that the most important source of news for 73 percent of people living in 13 villages in a specific commune was Facebook or the Internet. Television was at 13 percent, radio at 10 percent and newspapers at 4 percent. For farmers in the commune, Facebook was the most important source of information.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Farmers in Takeo are looking to app developers for assistance in farming. supplied

The World Food Program has an initiative called the Virtual Farmers’ Markey (VFM), which is a good example of how technology and digital communication can be leveraged to benefit the livelihoods of local farmers and give them increased access to markets. Farmers across the country struggle with a variety of issues related to farming and the weather, making it difficult for them to get their goods to markets. In Kampong Thom province, especially around Stung Sen city, many residents are forced to face yearly dangerous floods and monsoons during the rainy season. To address this problem, the European Union gave funding to local NGO People in Need, which created an early warning system for local residents.

“It is very helpful for our people so that they can rescue some animals or crops and take their children to safe places before a disaster happens,” said Thhiv Vann Thy, chief of the department of Agriculture and Fisheries of Kampong Thom province.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Farmers in Takeo are looking to app developers for assistance in farming. Photo supplied

During a visit from EU Ambassador to Cambodia George Edgar, Im Saroeun, director of administration in Kampong Thom province and head of the disaster management office, said the early warning system “uses interactive voice response technology or voice messages to deliver early directions to all registered mobile phones of people living in the area. Then local people can prevent their belongings being lost in a disaster.”

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