ASA/WISHH, Kansas State University (KSU) and other partners convened a unique field day that resulted in Cambodian fish farmers and other aquaculture industry representatives going home with new ideas for fish feed and feeding practices as well as financing options. KSU and Cambodia’s Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) hosted the January 12 field day that also played a key role in connecting fish farmers to buyers and others in Cambodia’s aquaculture supply chain.
Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainability Trade (CAST) – Cambodia (CAST) is ASA/WISHH’s U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Food for Progress project that benefits from KSU’s expertise and KSU’s work with CE SAIN, at the Royal University of Agriculture (RUA). KSU also leads a U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) Feed the Future Innovation Lab on Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL).
“The partnership between ASA/WISHH and Kansas State University’s SIIL will work to increase the productivity of aquaculture farms in six provinces around the country, by providing training for the improved quality and accessibility of inputs and better market linkages and promoting policies that will enable an environment that better supports aquaculture farmers,” said Vara Prasad, University Distinguished Professor and Director of SIIL.
“This is also a great opportunity to continue to build capacity within RUA and strengthen our partnership and collaborations with Kansas State University and other U.S. institutions,” said CE SAIN’s Director Lyda Hok.
KSU collaborates with Cambodian researchers, policymakers, donors, and aquaculture industry representatives who participate in CE SAIN’s initiatives. CE SAIN and CAST’s technical team conducted the farmer field day at the Serey Sophorn High School, which is home to CE SAIN’s Agriculture Technology Park in Kampong Thom province. With USAID support, KSU established the Agriculture Technology Park inside Serey Sophorn High School, which creates a natural training site for current and future fish farmers.
The 35 field day attendees ranged from fish producers and feed suppliers to fish buyers and distributors to students at the high school. Importantly, the event introduced Chamroeun Microfinance to participants. CAST partner World Vision and Chamroeun Microfinance have launched the first financial services program specifically designed for Cambodian aquaculture. The main objective of the partnership between World Vision/CAST and Chamroeun Microfinance is to make convenient financial services available to CAST project beneficiaries. They offer new opportunities for fish farmers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and other aquaculture enterprises to grow the Kingdom of Cambodia’s aquaculture sector, which is important to the economy, as well as nutrition and health.
In addition to receiving training on feed and feeding, participants heard and saw how pelleted feeds make fish grow faster. Attendees toured CE SAIN’s Agriculture Technology Park and learned to take samples of fish. Fish sampling is important for the farmers to monitor how many fish are in their ponds so they can manage them profitably. They also participated in discussions about good business and management practices. Fish farmers spoke with buyers about the value of locally raised fish, which allowed for a discussion about the quality that is needed for the market.
Another attendee was a woman who owns a fish-buying enterprise that already purchases from the CE SAIN ponds. She regularly participates in CAST activities and has also reinforced the importance of local fish farmers suppling quality fish.
The high school students not only learned about aquaculture for themselves, but also gained important knowledge for their families’ farms. One student reported that she was taking the information home to her mother who is a fish farmer.
Photo Caption: CAST field day participants joined a farm visit at the Agriculture Technology Park that Kansas State University has helped establish at the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition at the Royal University of Agriculture. With U.S. Agency for International Development support, Kansas State established the Agriculture Technology Park inside Serey Sophorn High School, creating a training site for current and future fish farmers.