( All Blog Post Photos: © Bartay )
Well we’re near the end of the dry season here in Cambodia, it has only started to rain again the last couple of weeks. It might rain and then it might pour for awhile, although it hasn’t done anything to dampen the heat. This is the hot time of the year and it’s always in the upper 90’s (F), approaching and going into 3 digits. So you can imagine 100º and 99% humidity! It’s warm.
I went back out to Prey Veng Province a few days ago to check up on the Fish on Farms program with Helen Keller International (HKI) and University of British Columbia (UBC). The one I went to last November and posted here on the blog. This trip we were going out to the farms and ponds to check up on the fish. For a short recap of that posting, the farmers involved with this project are growing small fish and large fish in ponds dug on their farms. The small fish are to be ground up whole and put into bor bor (a local type of porridge) given to their children to help with eliminating malnutrition. The large fish are to be sold at market for profit.
After the dry season the water has evaporated quite a bit, but all the foliage that they are growing to surround the ponds is doing quite well. It helps with the water and keeps critters and others out of the ponds. However with the scattered downpours of rain we’ve had recently, the water levels weren’t as low as I was expecting. The main reason for this visit was to collect samples of the different species of fish and prepare it for shipping to Vancouver for testing and collecting all the data for the study.
We got there quite late in the day and dusk was setting in a little early due to the pending rain. In hindsight I can say the pending downpour. At the first pond they were collecting the fish by laying a net in the pond and then lifting it up and slowly moving the fish to one end. It may not look it but it had to be about 102º and 98% humidity. I really wanted to jump in and join the guys. Well, almost!
After the collection the real work begins. They needed to collect 5 samples of 6 species and prepare them according to very specific guidelines. Record all the data and then get the fish to the only refrigerated freezer in the province. The fish must be kept below -18º (C) until they arrive in Vancouver. Before we showed up at the first pond, we stopped by the Health Center in the province which has the only freezer in the entire province and it runs solely on solar power. Then after all the samples are collected from a number of ponds, they will be transported to Phnom Penh packed in dry ice and then shipped to North America.
At this pond you can see the next level that the water will rise to as soon as the rainy season gets into full gear. The pond now is about 2 meters deep, so there is still plenty of room for this woman farmer to raise her fish. She has done quite a good job over the dry season to get the foliage grown around her pond. Her two little girls told me they do like the bor bor with the fish ground up. I haven’t tried it yet!
As you can see she’s also done a nice job raising her fish. These are some of the small species that will be prepared for shipping to the lab.
The following day we stopped by this couple’s farm to see the ‘almost’ completed fish hatchery. They were one of the 360 farmers who had a pond on their farm and then they were chosen, through a rather lengthy process, to build a hatchery in the place of their one pond. They are about two or three weeks away from finishing the fishery. The tanks are almost finished and the 8 new ponds have all been dug. A new water well was drilled and the goal is that in about one year, maybe two, they will be able to hatch enough fish to yearly restock all 360 ponds in the Fish on Farms project.