THE future of Cambodia’s agriculture sector looks brighter with more dedicated youngsters like Meng Sreylin whose ambition is to grow the agriculture sector by using technology. And this is what Sreylin, as a co-founder of ‘Smart Farm Assistance’ – a technology that uses a phone in irrigation for fruit farming – has been good at.
The monitoring of crops in the fields with irrigation technology and the smartphone has been made possible by Sreylin who is an 18-year-old sophomore majoring in e-Commerce at NIPICT. Sreylin worked on her entrepreneurship project by using technology with her team to invent ‘Smart Pump’ and ‘Smart Valve’ in a Smart Farm Assistance startup, her first since she was a freshman.
The ‘Smart Farm Assistance’ set – which includes the electronic station, a mobile SIM card and a solar panel with three sensors – costs 280,000 riel ($70). In future, farmers will be able to check on soil humidity and control their irrigation system remotely via their phones. Farmers don’t need to visit their fields regularly to check soil humidity and open and close water drains.
The journey of this young girl is not only to focus on her agriculture plan, but also to be a strong ‘frontman’ for her young brother. While there are many young people living together with their parents in a comfort zone, Sreylin is trying to eke out a living with her young brother, without parents.
Born in Kampong Cham province, Sreylin moved to Phnom Penh when she was in Grade 9 for the sake of her sick mother’s medication. Unfortunately, Sreylin’s mother lost the fight to her illness a year later. Now Sreylin is living with her young brother. Aside from studying, Sreylin and her young brother need to make some income with part-time jobs to reduce her father’s expenses.
Sreylin always spend her free time differently from other young people. Since she is in university, work and study are her top priority. Unlike other teens her age, no entertainment activity is on her checklist. She joins a weekend workshop, a short course, doing research on her project and doing a lot of news and research in her free time schedule. With a myriad of chores on her list, that’s why she reviews her successful startup idea with well-earned pride.
“We all rely on agriculture to live as it produces food for our daily life. Now the farmers are struggling in producing food for us, in addition to the threat from climate change. We as a young generation should take action to improve our agriculture now to help farmers doing their job (grow food) for their lives and for our lives,” she said.
‘Smart Farm Assistance’ has been sold to local users but is still in the product and marketing development phase (testing).
As a girl who doesn’t have any background in hardware nor agriculture skills, Sreylin is fortunate to have her teammates coming from different but relevant backgrounds.
Sreylin said: “At first I also don’t understand anything about agriculture and electronics because these devices (Smart pump and Smart valve) are all about hardware. But what I usually tell myself is I want to know what is that; I want to keep learning because I want to create an innovative idea,” she said.
“Luckily, I have some background on coding from my e-Commerce skills. So when I need to apply it on hardware, it also needs coding skill which make me a fast learner.”
With ‘Smart Farm Assistance’, farmers only need to send a message on their phone to tell the pump to start pumping water, and send a message again whenever they want machine to stop pumping. At the same time, this startup idea has been granted a top award and funds from many different competitions which motivates the team to work even harder to ensure it can be implementd well for Cambodian farmers.
Sreylin said: “In our country, family farmers still practise traditional farming ways which takes a lot of time pumping water. The bigger the farmland they have, the more time they spend.”
She said it will take time to change their perspective. So far, there are also some organisations which want to usher Cambodian agriculture sector into digital farming. And some of those origanisations have been contacting her to investigate more with her pumping technology.
Sreylin said based her experience, she said most students want to focus on modern living rather than agriculture. But for Sreylin, she will persevere with the agriculture sector.
“Even if my ‘Smart Farm Assistance’ don’t succeed in its business, I won’t give up my plan to improve the agriculture sector. I will carry on inventing other plans to help agriculture by using my e-Commerce skill and technology solutions,” said Sreylin.