© Bartay | All Rights Reserved

Fish on Farms — Prey Veng Province

( All Blog Post Photos:  © Bartay )

.

.

.

I spent a couple of days out in Prey Veng Province northeast of Phnom Penh, visiting rural villages looking at a project that’s pretty much just getting started. It’s a joint venture between Helen Keller International (HKI) and the University of British Columbia (UBC). It’s looking into the benefits of micronutrients introduced to young children and babies from very small fish. I did hear that there are groups all over Southeast Asia and Africa that are watching this trial to see how it goes. It’s called “Fish on Farms”.

They have dug ponds 10 meters by 15 meters by 2 meters deep and the local farmers are raising small fish and large fish in the ponds. The small fish will be used in porridge for the children, getting the micronutrients from the fish. The large fish will be sold for family profit. There is one ‘Village Model Farmer’ (VMF) for each village, kind of the model the others try to follow. Then each VMF covers 10 ponds or farmers. There is going to be a total of 360 ponds and 280 have been finished in just 3 or 4 months.

.

.

.

It will take some time to get the ponds in the right order to sustain the life of the fish. The new ponds do loose water to seepage and evaporation while they are in the process of getting them in that finished position now. They must watch the ph level, while introducing manure to start the micro plankton growing and getting the conditions right for the fish. Photosynthesis creates the oxygen in the water. I drove out to the province with two fellows from the Cambodian government. They were with the Fisheries Administration, a division of the Department of Aquaculture Development, they gave me a lot of information on the ponds and fish.

.

.

.

They must feed the fish daily with a ground grain.

.

.

.

.

.

.

One woman wanted to add animal protein to her pond for the fish, so she had taken the top portion of a termite hill and was breaking it up to separate the termites and was feeding this to her fish. I must say they did come swimming when they heard her pounding on the log.

.

.

.

At first I thought the reason everyone builds their homes on stilts was because of flooding during the rainy season. They like having an outdoor room or room for animals or other uses that don’t belong inside their home. That’s the ground floor! Every house throughout rural Cambodia is built this way.

.

.

.

The floor is made of bamboo, spaced to allow air to flow up through the house and out the eves. Then at night, the entire family will sleep under the mosquito net.

.

.

.

Gee go figure… the project is called “Fish on Farms” so they are also growing vegetables, usually along side the house and the pond. More often than not, the wife will tend to the garden and the pond while the husband is out taking care of the rice paddies. I found it amazing how well their vegetables were growing.

.

.

.

It was quite a jaw pounding experience getting to some of these villages. We would go off the main road, whether it was paved or dirt and start driving along the top of the levee’s between flooded rice paddies. The levees were usually full of washed out areas and mud, and just wide enough for a 4 wheel drive.

.

.

.

Then we would cross the paddies and come into the village. Some roads were passable and some were a bit more difficult.

.

.

.

.

.

.

We spent the night at a guesthouse about a quarter kilometer from the Vietnam border. So that evening while everyone was getting cleaned for dinner, 4 of us decided to go check it out. So we got in the car and drove down the road to the border. This was not your typical border crossing like on a state route, with 20 buildings, guards, police, etc. It was just a dirt road with a long red and white stick across the road next to a bamboo shack. We talked to the Khmer guy, in hopes of letting us drive through into the no-mans land and towards the Vietnam side. He was very casual about it, raised the bamboo and let us go through. There was a group of kids playing soccer in the field just inside, even though it was starting to get dark.

We drove about six hundred yards until we came upon the Vietnam crossing. The Vietnamese guards didn’t quite look as casual as our Khmer friend. So seeing as not one of us had a passport, we decided to just turn around, wave and drive back to Cambodia.

It was great being out in the villages meeting the locals, eating their local food, and meeting the kids. The kids here in Cambodia tend to be very shy, but sometimes they will open up and start to laugh and get excited. So I thought I’d just leave you with a few of the future farmers of Cambodia.

.

.

.

.

.

.

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Cambodia.

4 Comments

  1. Nancy J Haselow December 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Nice story and beautiful photos. Thanks for the thoughts as well. Hopefully we will see a periodic update of progress of this operations reserach project.

  2. Janice December 8, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    Love the top photo…..need some food pics so I can see what you are chowing down on.

  3. Vickie December 11, 2012 at 12:47 am #

    The story and images are really nice – especially the top one – art in every sense of the word.

  4. Carol December 11, 2012 at 4:42 am #

    Love the pictures of the children. Really beautiful. Sounds like you are having a great time!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*