A farmer in Takeo province is reaping the benefits of diversification on his 1.6ha land in Borei Cholsar district. Previously, Sem Savry grew three crops of rice a year, but now, in addition to his rice, he feeds river shrimp and geese, and grows coconuts.

Twenty-eight-year-old Savry told The Post that he initially planned to farm fish, but after meeting with specialists from the provincial Fisheries Administration (FiA) – which is under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – he was convinced to raise shrimp. The FiA provided him with technical support.

His farm in Doung Khpos commune’s Chrey Ngok village began as a 1.3ha section in 2020, when he first began to diversify, but after turning over $10,000 in his first year, he was able to purchase more land.

“I followed the advice of the FiA specialists and achieved outstanding yields. My income is far higher than it was when I grew only rice. Now I have four income streams – river shrimp, geese, rice and coconuts,” he said.

Savry said the training was free, and officials donated his first young shrimp. Right now, he has around 25,000 young shrimp growing, and expects to harvest between 500 and 700kg this season.

“Although the shrimp market is slightly unstable at the moment, this is not a problem for me, as I earn a steady income from my other produce,” he explained.

Thay Somony, director of Aquaculture Cambodia – the FiA’s aquaculture development department, said the practice of diversified farming is encouraged and supported by specialists in several provinces in the Mekong Delta including Kandal, Takeo, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng,

“These provinces are especially suitable for integrated agri-aquaculture. This means there is no need for farmers to rely on just one product, and thus be susceptible to changes in one market,” he said.

At last week’s annual workshop of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) on the Asian Delta, Somony said the FiA and two other specialised institutions under the ministry – the general departments of Agriculture, and Animal Health and Production – are working together to identify technical barriers to the practice.

“The three did not previously cooperate, as each was focussed on their own specialist areas,” he said.

“Under minister Dith Tina, we now have a single unified voice. This is important, as diversification is necessary to ensure the viability of the Kingdom’s smallhold farmers,” he said.