Cambodia’s cassava farmers eye drone technology

Some small cassava growers in Cambodia are turning to drone technology to achieve higher crop yields and lower costs.

Cassava is the second crop grown in the country after rice and contributes 4% to GDP growth.

The production, processing and export of cassava has been the main driver of Cambodia’s agricultural economy. According to the “National Cassava Policy 2020-2025” issued by the Royal Government of Cambodia, the country is positioned to be the home of cassava production and processing industries and become a reliable supplier of cassava products for the market. regional and global.

The crop is planted on 600,000 hectares of farmland, involving intensive labor and a long process. Cassava cultivation provides jobs for thousands of rural workers across Cambodia. Besides food, the harvest is processed into flour, paper and alcohol.

Take a big leap forward

Last month, cassava farmer Chhay Thi became an early adopter of drone technology when he contracted the services of Red Sparrow Cambodia to demonstrate autonomous weeding using a drone. XAG farmer on his 10 hectare cassava field.

Red Sparrow is the local partner of Chinese drone supplier XAG.

The drone flew over ridges of cassava plants, sprayed precisely along the predefined route, and completed eight hectares of herbicide spraying via unmanned control. In the past, the same amount of work usually took farm workers over a week to complete manually, but now it can be done in an hour by a single agricultural drone.

Along with increased efficiency, drones are helping farmers like Chhay Thi reduce overall planting costs.

“If I have an XAG drone during busy seasons to help me protect crops, I can save $8-10 per hectare that was previously spent on manual spraying. Running the drone also reduces chemical usage by 10 to 30 percent, so the resources and money saved can be reallocated to other crops,” said Thi, who owns 20 hectares of land in Varin district, Cambodia’s Siem Reap province.

Indeed, while the Cambodian agricultural sector has an adequate workforce, farm owners face increased costs of up to $18-25 per hectare when hiring workers for pesticide spraying. A group of farm workers can only spray one hectare a day, which would struggle to catch up with the busy cassava growing season.

Unlike large agricultural machinery, drones can be transported easily and deployed in the field much more easily. After the liquid tank was filled with herbicide, the XAG agricultural drone automatically took off when the drone operator played simple clicks on the mobile app.

Other advantages of drone technology

In addition to closing the yield gap and reducing costs, the use of drones protects farmers from exposure to chemicals.

The cassava harvest can reach over a meter and sometimes even exceed human height. Traditional spraying requires farmers to carry knapsack sprayers or drive tractors to enter the field. Instead of putting farmers into operation on the ground, drones can eliminate health risks from chemical inhalation and poisoning.

The way the drone sprays from the top down successfully prevents the direct contact of large ground machinery on the cassava crops, ensuring that pesticides or fertilizers can penetrate the plants precisely and avoid crop damage.

Meanwhile, Thi expresses his optimism about drone technology.

“I believe the high efficiency and affordable price will accelerate the scaling up of drone operation to more farmers. XAG’s agricultural drone can not only help me harvest more, but also serve other farmers with the same cassava boom demand,” he said.

Drone technology has shown its various benefits in farm management, from improving crop yield to using less pesticides to safeguarding the well-being of rural workers. As Cambodia is the world’s tenth-largest cassava producer with plans to move forward, XAG predicts that more cassava farmers will adopt an agricultural drone and achieve better profits in a sustainable manner.

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