Land Use and Natural Resource Utilization and Management in Kampong Cham, Cambodia
SUBMITTED ORGANISATION :
United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies
DATE OF SUBMISSION :
Cambodia (Kampong Cham)
During the last 40 years forestlands in Cambodia have decreased as a result of human activity, most notably period was from 1975 to 1979 under the Khmer Rouge. At that time people were forced to move from cities to remote areas to create reservoirs and irrigation canals and clear forest for agricultural purposes. Much of the biodiversity and many ecosystems were destroyed; including the area of Wat Chas village, Kampong Cham province. Some small woods, survived around dwellings forming a kind of agro-forestry system, provide a variety of benefits and inspire steps towards a more sustainable relationship with nature, such as: ・Replanting some species of herbs or trees around dwellings; It is a kind of agro-forestry system that provide foods and ingenious medicine for the local people. ・Applying organic fertilization through composting natural resource waste such as farmyard manure or plant residues; Organic fertilizer applied in farmlands increases soil organic matters, soil aggregation and capacity holding moisture. It is not only environmentally harmonized but also financially beneficial, specifically in terms of saving chemical fertilizer costs. ・Multi-cropping; Farming practice, growing two or more crops in the same space during a single growing season, allows for year-round coverage of farmland, reduces soil erosion, sustains humus topsoil, increases the competitive edge of cash crops and reduces the amount of pesticide and herbicide. Due to Wat Chas village’s continuing successful integration of these proven sustainable methods, it will be a model case of the natural resource utilization and management for Cambodia.
agro-forestry, multi-cropping, organic fertilization
Dr. Lalita Siriwattananon is a senior researcher at the Institute of Environment Rehabilitation and Conservation, Japan (ERECON) as well as a program manager at the Association of Environmental and Rural Development, Thailand (AERD). Her academic field is organic agriculture in soil and water conservation. In addition, she has been implementing various activities for rural development and natural resource management in Southeast Asia. Dr. Machito Mihara is a professor at Faculty of Regional Environment Science of Tokyo University of Agriculture as well as a director-general at the Institute of Environment Rehabilitation and Conservation, Japan (ERECON). His field is the environmental rehabilitation and conservation in rural areas of Asian countries. Dr. Kaoru Ichikawa is a consultant at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies. She has been working for the programme of the Satoyama Initiative since 2009. Her research interests include structures and changes of landscapes which have developed as a result of human-nature relationships in regions with different natural and socio-economic conditions.
Institute of Environment Rehabilitation and Conservation, Japan
International Society of Environmental and Rural Development, Association of Environmental and Rural Development, Thailand
Use and management of natural resources and land was studied in Wat Chas village in Cambodia where agriculture plays an important role for sustainable land use and appropriate natural resource management.
Agriculture plays an important role for sustainable land use and appropriate natural resource management in Cambodia, as more than 70 per cent of the total population is a farmer. Most Cambodian households depend on agriculture and its related sub-sectors, including livestock raising, fisheries and aquaculture, for their livelihood. Cambodian agriculture produces a wide variety of crops, however, paddy rice is the major crop.
An examination of the history of Cambodian agriculture shows the evolution of rice production, particularly in the last decade. Rapid development of agricultural technologies has significantly increased the amount of agricultural products. However, the majority of farmers have come to apply agricultural chemicals, such as chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides to maintain high levels of crop yields. The overuse of agricultural chemicals has damaged many aspects of natural resources.
In Wat Chas village, Prey Chhor district, Kampong Cham province, an interview and questionnaire survey was conducted from 25 October to 3 November, 2009. The total 60 hectare area of Wat Chas village includes 48 hectares of rice fields, 5 hectares of vegetable orchards and 7 hectares of woodlands and settlements. The total population is 484 inhabitants and no school exists in the village. Most lowland farmers cultivate rice during the rainy season and keep the land bare after harvest. In upper lands, farmers are cultivating vegetables of qing geng cai ( Brassica rapa var. chinensis), Chinese cabbage ( Brassica campestris), mustard spinach ( Brassica rapa var. perviridis) and Chinese celery ( Apium graveolens). Farming systems dependent on synthetic chemicals, deforestation, mono-cropping and plant residue burning have been pointed out as non-sustainable. Regarding the practice of plant residue burning, it has been carried out by farmers in Wat Chas village because it is a very cheap and easy way to clear residues and to prepare for the next cultivation. However, the heat from burning kills various beneficial microorganisms and soil organisms. The nutrient components in plant residues are also lost through burning. Attention has therefore been focused on achieving sustainable land use and appropriate natural resource management.
The forest land in Wat Chas village has decreased due to the human activities in the last 40 years, since the civil war. In particular, during the period of Khmer rouge from 1975 to 1979, people were forced to move from cities to rural or remote areas in order to construct water reservoirs, irrigation systems and clear the forest for agricultural purpose. Much of the biodiversity and many ecosystems were destroyed in large areas, including the area of Wat Chas village or its surroundings. Presently, small areas of woodlands were left around the dwellings. Most trees such as neem, coconut, palm, mango, jack fruit, rubber or bamboo in the small woodlands are available for villagers and provide benefits (picture 1). Additionally, some species of trees or herbs were re-planted around the dwellings.
- a. Albizia sp. (LEGUMINOSAE)
- b. Mammea siamensis (GUTTIFERAE)
- c1. Sesbania grandiflora (LEGUMINOSAE)
- c2. White silk cotton tree: Ceiba pentandra (BOMBACACEAE)
- d. Star apple: Chrysophyllum cainito (SAPOTACEAE)
- e. Banana: Musa sp. (MUSACEAE)
- f. Palmyra palm: Borassus flabellifer (PALMAE)
- g. Palmyra palm: Borassus flabellifer (PALMAE)
- h. Coconut: Cocos nucifera (PALMAE)
- i. Bamboo: Bambusa sp. (GRAMINEAE)
Utilization/management of land and natural resources
Land use in Wat Chas village can be divided into three types: residential land, paddy field and upland field for vegetable cultivation (figure 1). The main natural resources can be seen in the diversity of plants.
Picture 3 – Water hyacinth collected for composting by farmer in Wat Chas village (Credit: UNU-IAS)
Dwellings in residential land are surrounded by small woodlands or home gardens. Figure 2 shows the landscape of the dwellings, and all plants in it are summarized in table 1.
Figure 2 – Top and side views of dwellings in Wat Chas village (Credit: UNU-IAS)
Table 1 . Plants found in dwellings (numbers correspond to those in figure 2)
Even in paddy fields, trees and small upland fields for vegetable cultivation were observed in Wat Chas village. Figure 3 and table 2 show the landscape of trees and small upland fields for vegetable cultivation in paddy fields. Although the landscape in the village looks flat and less undulating, the villagers mound soil in paddy fields. The mounds are used to grow vegetables, which cannot grow under shallow groundwater table or flooded conditions.
|Number||Name of plant||Utilization|
|1||Mango: Mangifera indica (ANACADIACEAE)||Food|
|2||Mung bean: Vigna radiata (LEGUMINOSAE)||Food|
|3||Chinese cabbage; Brassica pekinensis (CRUCIFERAE)||Food|
|4||Rice: Oryza sativa (GRAMINEAE)||Food|
Moreover, some upland fields are suitable to grow vegetables in Wat Chas village. There are four farmers conducting the multi-cropping; recently they converted their farming system from mono-cropping to multi-cropping (Picture 5). Multi-cropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in the same space during a single growing season. It has various styles of cropping, such as double-cropping, intercropping or relay cropping. It is an efficient way to use agricultural lands. Some of these systems provide year-round coverage of crop land, thus can reduce soil erosion and sustain humus topsoil. Multi-cropping systems increase the competitive edge of the cash crop and, in some cases, reduce the amount of herbicides required for weed control. The landscape of the multi-cropping field in Wat Chas village is summarized in figure 4 and table 3.
Picture 5 – Multi-cropping field in Wat Chas village (Credit: UNU-IAS)
|Number||Name of plant||Utilization|
|1||Palmyra palm: Borassus flabellifer (PALMAE)||Food, Construction, Firewood, Others|
|2||Coconut: Cocos nucifera (PALMAE)||Food|
|3||Sesbania grandiflora (LEGUMINOSAE)||Food, Firewood|
|4||White silk cotton tree: Ceiba pentandra (BOMBACACEAE)||Others|
|5||Bombax anceps (BOMBACEAE)||Construction, Firewood,
|6||Hymenodictyon exelsum (RUTACEAE)||Construction, Firewood|
|7||Leucaena leucocephalade (LEGUMINOSAE)||Food, Firewood|
|8||Mango: Mangifera indica (ANACADIACEAE)||Food|
|9||Erythrina stricta (LEGUMINOSAE)||Others|
|10||Bellyache Bush: Jatropha gossypitolia (EUPHORBIACEAE)||Others|
After the interview and questionnaire survey, and the workshop on the Satoyama Initiative on 4 November 2009 at Wat Chas village, the villagers decided to pay more attention to sustainable use and the management of natural resources, in particular to sustaining the variety of plants in woodlands around the dwellings.
At the moment in Wat Chas village, there are 24 compost boxes, 10 organic farms, and one commercial duck farm with 500 ducks. By engaging in various activities with respect to the sustainable use and the management of natural resources, Wat Chas village will be a model case of sustainable agriculture of Cambodia.
This study was conducted as part of the program activities of the Satoyama Initiative, United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies.
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