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Hydroponic farming to be tested in Cambodia

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
An outdoor hydroponics system growing herbs such as mint, basil and rosemary at an urban farm in Singapore. Reuters

Japanese company Asian Gateway (Cambodia) will soon conduct a pilot project with a hydroponic farm in Cambodia.

It will be tested at the Royal University of Agriculture (Chamkar Dong campus) in the first stage and after that will be used as a model for farmers and the private sector to implement across the whole nation.

Asian Gateway’s president and founder, Tomonori Kimura, said at a meeting with Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon on Wednesday that the hydroponic farm will be done in cooperation with the Royal University of Agriculture in Cambodia.

He said Asian Gateway specialised in infrastructure development and maintenance technology to integrate environmentally friendly technology.

He added that the pilot project will soon start and introduce new technology to a hydroponic farm to produce vegetables to supply local markets. He said his company will do research and study the market for hydroponically grown produce.

The project will study how to reduce the costs of production through technology and it will not use chemicals on the vegetables, which it aims to produce safely to target middle income earners.

“It is an indoor farm which will be using solar energy that can manage the temperature and humidity and it will not be a concern if there is not too much rain, drought or disease,” Mr. Kimura said.

Agriculture Minister Mr Sakhon, told Mr Kimura that Cambodian people, particularly urban people, are interested in safety food and chemical free vegetables. He said he hoped the hydroponic farm could be started soon and it could expand and transfer the technology to the provinces.

He added that he wants the farm to produce safe food to supply local market demand and reduce the reliance on imports and asked the company to cooperate with the Royal University of Agriculture on the project.

Ngo Bunthan, the rector of the Royal University of Agriculture, told Khmer Times that no exact date has been set to implement the pilot project, but it will start soon at the university, which researches and teaches people about farming.

“We have not yet finalised the date as we are preparing the plan. It is new to Cambodia and we will study how we can apply it in Cambodia and benefit our people,” Mr Bunthan said.

“It [hydroponic farming] does not depend on the climate, and though rain or drought, we still can produce vegetables,” he added. “If the project succeeds, private companies and farmers can take that model and use it.”

He said the purpose of the project was to find the technology to apply to the indoor farm to grow vegetables at a low price which are safe for people.

Kean Sophea, the deputy director of the department of horticulture and subsidiary crops at the Ministry of Agriculture, welcomed the company’s move, saying it is part of the government’s aim to boost the supply of local vegetables on the market.

He added that Cambodia has not experienced hydroponic farming. However, he said hydroponic farming is good as it could rotate the growing period for the whole year with the products fetching competitive prices.

“Hydroponic farming can be done everywhere as it is done indoors,” Mr Sophea said. “If a hydroponic farm is large, it could contribute to the supply of vegetables in Cambodia’s markets.”

He said Cambodia imports 300 to 400 tonnes of vegetables per day from neighbouring countries.

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