Research Articles


Women farmers preferences of improved tools and impact of conservation agriculture practices on yield and profitability of commercial vegetable home gardens in Cambodia

Sreynget LO1, Sothea RIEN1, Channaty NGANG1, Manuel R. REYES2, Pao SREAN1*

1Faculty of Agriculture and Food Processing, National University of Battambang, Battambang 020101, Cambodia. 
2Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.
*Corresponding author: e-mail: pao.srean@gmail.com 


Abstract

In Cambodia, labour movement from on-farm towards off-farm jobs is one of the causes of reduced availability of agricultural workers. Conventional vegetable production requires a lot of strenuous labour for land preparation. Conservation agriculture (CA) has been promoted globally as one of the options to enhance soil, water, and biodiversity health, reduce labour and its drudgery, arrest land degradation, and provide drought and flood resilience amidst climate change.  However, limitation of market-available garden tools on conservation agriculture is a factor for slow adaptation of CA in Cambodia.  Ergonomic tools that are safe, appropriate for women and men, and can be manufactured locally are needed for CA adaptation. The objectives of this study were to: (a) evaluate potential CA tools based on ergonomics, affordability, efficiency, can be locally manufactured and women and men friendly; and (b) quantify the impacts of CA practices compared with conventional tilled practices on yield and profitability of key vegetables crops in commercial home gardens managed by women in Cambodia. Hand tools were introduced to CA women farmers for at least two months prior to the tool test. Work efficiency and adaptation feedbacks were evaluated for each tool used for planting, weeding, fruit covering, and harvesting from thirteen practicing CA farmers. We found that hand tools which are lightweight with multiple functions and requiring less manual force, hence providing least discomforts were most preferred. We identified those tools in this paper. In addition, we recommend affordable drip irrigation. CA was found to produce more vegetables than CT, with less labour and cost. We recommended ergonomically safe, affordable, efficient, and women friendly tools for CA commercial vegetable home gardens.

Keywords: commercial vegetable production, conservation agriculture, garden hand tool, no-till farming, women farmer.