Updated: Aug 10
Grateful thanks from Leng and the students to those assisting us to get through this very difficult time. Be assured they are all doing as much as they can too, see below.
Always interested in providing food free from chemicals, a January trip to Community First experimental fish farm outside of Siem Reap sparked Leng and our Civil Engineering students into developing a suitable system for ODA’s small farm plot.
Traditionally the wet season floods the rivers and small fish into the rice fields where the plants clean the water for the fish which in turn provide the nutrients to the plants, both benefiting from each other. Families net the small fish providing protein and calcium into their dairy free diet.
Leng has become concerned at the recent spread of chemicals into the river systems in Cambodia, so was very attracted by the thought of producing food outside of this fertiliser and chemical cycle. He and the Civil Engineering students set about developing a complete aquaponics system for ODA and providing a valuable opportunity for the resident students to learn more skills of self-sufficiency.
The goal is twofold:
(a) To develop a more efficient means of producing chemical free food for the ODA school family.
(b) To build a knowledge base to show local villagers how to set up inexpensive aquaponics farms. This could supply year round food for their families in the long hot dry season, and give village ladies another income source, producing fish and vegetables to sell in their local markets.
Sok Vun, Chanda and Lai Hun get into the serious business of food prep to cook.
Good sized fish
Different Khmer recipes require different sized fish so they are selected daily.
·Currently, the system consists of two concrete fish tanks fertilizing four garden beds and several coconut trees. This has proved very successful and Leng is now adding a new plastic-lined fish pond to irrigate more garden beds.
· 15 kg of fishlings were purchased to start the farm and these have now grown to a size of 0.3 kg - 1.0 kg, giving a total weight of fish of approximately 200 kg. 8-10 kg of fish are now harvested per week ..... plus a few BBQ'd extras that are eaten at the farm for hungry workers!
· For the first two months, the fishlings were fed with commercially processed fish food, but now ODA prepares all fish food from waste scraps and by-product from rice husking.
· Leng's aquaponics system works by filtering the fish water and using this wastewater to irrigate the garden beds and coconut trees. After two to three days the ponds are topped up with clean water from the well thus refreshing approximately 20% of the fish water. In this way, the plants produce vigorous growth with the enriched irrigation water and the fish remain healthy and grow fast. The pumps run on solar electricity and the farm produces the fish-food as a by-product. Once the tanks and garden beds are constructed, the only input required is farm labour. No additional chemicals are used.
· Peav who has studied plumbing through ODA, works at the Aquaponics farm full time now and is assisted by the ODA school family.
Peav, (pronounced 'Pow') hard at work and loving his important role now. He can't wait to work with Leng to introduce it to the villagers.
Challenging as these times are, ODA continues to provide as much as possible ourselves to ensure your donations are used prudently to remain in operation for these intelligent youngsters to continue the education that will provide greatly improved futures for them. They and our teachers are diligently continuing their further studies around these survival measures.
If you could forego just a couple of cups of coffee or a bottle of wine each month and donate these savings to ODA assisting us with consistent income, that provides a lifeline to keep our projects operating. We thank you for your continued interest in assisting students here.
COVID-19 update – Thankfully ODA and our village schools remain free from the virus. Lockdowns are working here, but having a dramatic effect on employment and incomes for all locals. Siem Reap is shuttered up and looks like a sad ghost town.