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Neighbors Survey 'Rice Intensification' Gains

Experts from five countries recently traveled to Phnom Penh to learn more about a new way to grow rice, one that requires lest chemicals and yields greater results.

Agriculturalists from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Pakistan spent five days in Cambodia to review the System of Rice Intensification, which is being developed in Cambodia by the Center for Study and Development in Agriculture.

"The farmers in some of these countries in Asia, they are very interested with the experience we have to encourage SRI," said Yong Sang Korma, director of the center, which is known by its French acronym, CEDAC. "By following natural principals, rice farms have higher production, while using their own resources more effectively and expending less chemicals or pesticides."

SRI differs from traditional growth methods, but proponents say the yield can be much greater. Under the system, rice fields are kept moist, but not saturated, and rice stalks, whose seedlings are planted early on, are spaced farther apart to promote the growth of roots.

South Tichaykunvuth, a farmer from Thailand, said agriculture there is divided among families, who produce for themselves, and agro-businesses, which farm for export abroad. Around 70 percent of Thai farmers use pesticides on their crops, he said, a situation that is similar to Cambodia now.

"The use of chemicals can impact crop soil or the way the produce tastes and smells," he said.

Laiv Pai Yin, of Malaysia's non-governmental Action Network Asia and Pacific, said the best choice for farmers in Southeast Asia was a reduction in pesticides.

"It is a real threat to environmental and human health," he said.

Cambodia has nearly 3 million hectares of agricultural land, but much of it is farmed through the use of chemicals. CEDAC works to encourage farmers to give up these habits and turn to natural fertilizer and other methods.

Yim Kim Sean, secretary of state for the Ministry of Environment, said he supports organizations educating people about agriculture. Only about 20 percent of Cambodia's farmers know the negative impacts of chemical use on the environment and human health, he said.

Cambodian has nearly 3 million heta of agriculture land in daily profession Khmer people they likes to used chemical and pesticide ,and these produce are imported from Thailand and Vietnam. Since 2000 CEDAC it research agriculture locally have to encourage farmer to give up old habitat so they turn to used normal fertilizer more.