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Submitted by A. Tharp on
Stephane, I am doing some research on the subject of Agriculture in Cambodia. There are indications that Agriculture can serve as the initial pathway to many other industries; as well as, infrastructure items such as roadways, extended electrical grids, etc. I have been involved in several agricultural business in the western US that had as a business strategy a concept referred to as from the “Field to the Package” or an integrated value added supply chain. One of the crops we grew was organic wheat that was processed into organic flour and then mixed with other ingredients that were packaged and sold within a chain of retail stores as pancake mixes. We also worked to add some simple crop diversification and rotatoin to help reduce our risk somewhat. Although the farming methods in a developing nation and market such as is found in Cambodia is very different than that in the US today, yet there are also some very basic similarities. What Cambodia has in significant quantities are: water resources; heat units (annual sunlight); land used primarily for farming; and farmers - those that grow their own food. What is missing are many of skills that the US has in significant quantities: knowledge of soils and fertilizing methods; understanding of seeds and applied genetics as they related to various latitudes versus yields; means of the mechanization of the harvesting and post-harvest transportation; as well as, grain storage systems. In short, the next level of the maturation of farming in rural developing nations like Cambodia would likely be very similar to how American farmers farmed in the early 1930’s. During that time farmers used simple and affordable mechanization tools to greatly increase efficiencies while using what is today called “organic” farming methods in regards to fertilizers and soil amendments. Additionally, many farming communities banded together to form “co-ops” to address the needs of capital formation to assemble larger infrastructure items such as crop storage and distribution systems. I understand this process and such fundamental approaches to an agricultural based business. I would like to begin some dialogue with you about how to do some simple economic modeling that would arithmetically describe the potential impacts of some simple mechanization of portions of the farming process in rural Cambodia, combined with some basic added value functions that include sustainable aquaculture and animal husbandry operations that add viable and affordable sources of protein to the diet; as well as, sources of organic fertilizer as a means to improve soil conditions and crop yields. Certainly the concept that a farming family with full bellies and some extra coins to buy items they can not make or grow, tend to produce a much more satisfied population than a family stressed by hunger and no options, is not difficult to envision as a potential benefit of this process. Let me know your thoughts. Best Regards, A. Tharp