Use of household ponds for garden irrigation and fish production. [Cambodia]

ការប្រើប្រាស់ស្រះគ្រួសារសំរាប់ស្រោចស្រពច្បារដំណំានឹងការចឹញ្ចឹមត្រី (Khmer)

technologies_1627 - Cambodia

Completeness: 80%

1. General information

1.2 Contact details of resource persons and institutions involved in the assessment and documentation of the Technology

Key resource person(s)

SLM specialist:
SLM specialist:

Khun Lean Hak



1.3 Conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT

The compiler and key resource person(s) accept the conditions regarding the use of data documented through WOCAT:


1.4 Declaration on sustainability of the described Technology

Is the Technology described here problematic with regard to land degradation, so that it cannot be declared a sustainable land management technology?


2. Description of the SLM Technology

2.1 Short description of the Technology

Definition of the Technology:

Ponds are used at household level to raise fish as well as to irrigate vegetable gardens and rice seedlings

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Wet-season rice is the predominantly grown crop in the area, but some land users also grow other crops (e.g. sweet potatoes, pumpkins, or peanuts). However, if droughts occur or if the rainfall patterns are erratic, the production can be harmed. Furthermore, due to the lack of water, the land users usually leave their fields bare during the dry season. This results in an increase of wind erosion and in negative impacts on the soil biota due to its exposure to the sun.

In order to tackle these challenges, ponds of 4 m depth (1 m deeper than the groundwater table during the dry season) are used at household level. By building ponds, some fields can be irrigated during the dry season, thus crops can be grown the whole year round. In this case study, sweet potatoes are the main cash crop grown on the irrigated fields during the dry season. The vines can be transplanted to the fields during the beginning of the rainy season, resulting in a better productivity of the crop. Peanuts and cucumbers are other cash crops grown on the irrigated fields.
Additionally, fish are introduced to the pond. These fish, which are caught during fishing for consumption in the flooded rice fields or nearby streams, increase the resilience of the land users: On one hand, they generate additional income and on the other hand, they allow the land users to eat fish the whole year round.

To build the ponds, the land users of this case study benefited from the road construction. The constructer needed soil, and offered to dig a pond for free if they could use the soil. They only dug 2 of the total 4 meters depth of the pond. The land users had to hire someone to dig deeper, as the groundwater level drops below 3 meters soil level during the dry season. The additional benefits from the pond, the fish are introduced as fingerlings when they are caught with the bigger fish. They are fed with termites (around 5 kg of termite nest each day) and with rice bran (1 kg every 3 days). As the pond is only 2 years old, the maintenance activities like digging out the mud did not have to be done yet.

The analysed area is flat (slope < 2%), tropic (dry and wet season), and the soils are mostly sandy or loamy. The soils contain little organic matter, the pH is sinking, the area has been deforested a long time ago and the groundwater table is rather high (1-2 m during the dry season, on the surface during wet season). and the groundwater table is rather high (3 m below soil level during the dry season, on the surface during the wet season).
Due to climate change, the rainfalls are more erratic, temperatures rise and droughts are more recurrent. Rice is the predominant crop grown in the area, since it serves as staple food (mix subsistence and commercial activities). Rice is often grown in monocultures and harvested once a year. Once the rice is harvested (dry season), some farmer release cattle to the paddy fields to eat the straw and weeds.

As an addition to rice, most land users grow vegetable and fruits in small home gardens (subsistence) and complement their income by producing handicrafts or through off farm income / remittances from family members working in other places. The increasing migration rate (the young generation leaves the villages to work in the cities, garment industry or abroad) results in a decrease of available labour force in the area which has detrimental effects on the agricultural activities. Furthermore, the civil war in the 1970s (Khmer Rouge) led to the loss of agricultural knowledge that different NGOs try to re-establish.

2.3 Photos of the Technology

2.5 Country/ region/ locations where the Technology has been applied and which are covered by this assessment



Region/ State/ Province:

Kampong Chhnang

Further specification of location:

Roloer pha-er/Bantheay Preal/Tob Srauv (Village)

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • < 0.1 km2 (10 ha)

There are 4 ponds in the village. They are used to irrigate the rice seedlings if the rainy season starts with delay, or if there is a drought after the seeding. In the dry season they are used to irrigate vegetables. Total area of the irrigated fields is around 1 ha.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • less than 10 years ago (recently)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • through land users' innovation
Comments (type of project, etc.):

The pond was built in 2012 by the land user.

3. Classification of the SLM Technology

3.1 Main purpose(s) of the Technology

  • improve production
  • create beneficial economic impact

3.2 Current land use type(s) where the Technology is applied



  • Annual cropping
  • rice
Number of growing seasons per year:
  • 1

Longest growing period in days: 210, Longest growing period from month to month: June to December

Waterways, waterbodies, wetlands

Waterways, waterbodies, wetlands

  • Ponds, dams

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Low soil fertility, lack of water during the dry season, more recurrent droughts due to climate change, leaving the fields bare after the rice is harvested which results in higher erosion and in the loss of soil biota, predominance of rice monocultures, low technical knowledge of the land users about land conservation measures.
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Droughts, especially in the early rainy season. Rice seedlings need a reliable source of water.

3.4 Water supply

Water supply for the land on which the Technology is applied:
  • mixed rainfed-irrigated

3.5 SLM group to which the Technology belongs

  • irrigation management (incl. water supply, drainage)
  • surface water management (spring, river, lakes, sea)
  • beekeeping, aquaculture, poultry, rabbit farming, silkworm farming, etc.

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

structural measures

structural measures

  • S4: Level ditches, pits

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

biological degradation

biological degradation

  • Bq: quantity/ biomass decline
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification

Main causes of degradation: crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (Mainly annuals with high water demand are planted.)
Secondary causes of degradation: soil management (Ploughing of soil, lack of water retention.), change in temperature (More hot days, drying up the soil.), change of seasonal rainfall (Beginning of rain season is unpredictable.), droughts (.Especially detrimental in the beginning of the monsoon.), education, access to knowledge and support services (A lot of agricultural knowledge was lost during the Khmer Rouge Regime.)

3.8 Prevention, reduction, or restoration of land degradation

Specify the goal of the Technology with regard to land degradation:
  • prevent land degradation
  • reduce land degradation

4. Technical specifications, implementation activities, inputs, and costs

4.1 Technical drawing of the Technology

Technical specifications (related to technical drawing):

Pond used for irrigation as well as for fish production. In this case two watering cans are used, with a stick between them to transfer the weight to the shoulders.

Kampong Chhnang
Date: 2014

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: low (No field staff was involved.)
Technical knowledge required for land users: low
Main technical functions: water harvesting / increase water supply

Dam/ pan/ pond
Depth of ditches/pits/dams (m): 4
Width of ditches/pits/dams (m): 12
Length of ditches/pits/dams (m): 18
Specification of dams/ pans/ ponds: Capacity 800m3
Catchment area: ground waterm2


Stefan Graf, Switzerland

4.2 General information regarding the calculation of inputs and costs

Indicate average wage cost of hired labour per day:


4.3 Establishment activities

Activity Timing (season)
1. Dig the first 2 m Dry season
2. Dig the last 2 m Dry season

4.4 Costs and inputs needed for establishment

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Equipment machine use 1.0 100.0 100.0 50.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 100.0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Catch and select fingerlings in the rice fields and canals. Every year during wet season
2. Select fingerlings from catch in local streams to add in pond. Every year during dry season.
3. Dig out the pond. Not yet done, as the pond is still new.
4. Feed the fish with termites and rice bran. Regularly.
5. Fertilize the pond Yearly in the beginning of the wet season

4.6 Costs and inputs needed for maintenance/ recurrent activities (per year)

Specify input Unit Quantity Costs per Unit Total costs per input % of costs borne by land users
Labour labour 1.0 134.5 134.5 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 134.5
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 134.5

Machinery/ tools: Fishing traps. 1 costs around 1.2 US$. Fishing net, around 6.5 US$. They had them anyway to catch fish for consumption.
The costs were calculated for one pond, as the area is not relevant.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The most expensive factor is the availability of an excavator to dig the pond.

5. Natural and human environment

5.1 Climate

Annual rainfall
  • < 250 mm
  • 251-500 mm
  • 501-750 mm
  • 751-1,000 mm
  • 1,001-1,500 mm
  • 1,501-2,000 mm
  • 2,001-3,000 mm
  • 3,001-4,000 mm
  • > 4,000 mm
Specifications/ comments on rainfall:

1486.45 mm (2013) in Kampong Chhnang

Agro-climatic zone
  • sub-humid

Thermal climate class: tropics. 27-35°C

5.2 Topography

Slopes on average:
  • flat (0-2%)
  • gentle (3-5%)
  • moderate (6-10%)
  • rolling (11-15%)
  • hilly (16-30%)
  • steep (31-60%)
  • very steep (>60%)
  • plateau/plains
  • ridges
  • mountain slopes
  • hill slopes
  • footslopes
  • valley floors
Altitudinal zone:
  • 0-100 m a.s.l.
  • 101-500 m a.s.l.
  • 501-1,000 m a.s.l.
  • 1,001-1,500 m a.s.l.
  • 1,501-2,000 m a.s.l.
  • 2,001-2,500 m a.s.l.
  • 2,501-3,000 m a.s.l.
  • 3,001-4,000 m a.s.l.
  • > 4,000 m a.s.l.

5.3 Soils

Soil depth on average:
  • very shallow (0-20 cm)
  • shallow (21-50 cm)
  • moderately deep (51-80 cm)
  • deep (81-120 cm)
  • very deep (> 120 cm)
Soil texture (topsoil):
  • coarse/ light (sandy)
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)

5.4 Water availability and quality

Ground water table:

< 5 m

Availability of surface water:

poor/ none

Water quality (untreated):

poor drinking water (treatment required)

Comments and further specifications on water quality and quantity:

Ground water table: during dry season
Availability of surface water: during dry season

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • medium

5.6 Characteristics of land users applying the Technology

Market orientation of production system:
  • mixed (subsistence/ commercial)
Off-farm income:
  • 10-50% of all income
Relative level of wealth:
  • average
  • rich
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • mechanized/ motorized
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly Leaders / privileged
Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 0.5% - 1%
Off-farm income specification: Handicraft, remittances, factory work

5.7 Average area of land used by land users applying the Technology

  • < 0.5 ha
  • 0.5-1 ha
  • 1-2 ha
  • 2-5 ha
  • 5-15 ha
  • 15-50 ha
  • 50-100 ha
  • 100-500 ha
  • 500-1,000 ha
  • 1,000-10,000 ha
  • > 10,000 ha
Is this considered small-, medium- or large-scale (referring to local context)?
  • small-scale

5.8 Land ownership, land use rights, and water use rights

Land ownership:
  • communal/ village
  • individual, not titled
Land use rights:
  • communal (organized)
  • individual
Water use rights:
  • open access (unorganized)

Land users have a title that is not recognized by the state.

5.9 Access to services and infrastructure

  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
technical assistance:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
employment (e.g. off-farm):
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
roads and transport:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
drinking water and sanitation:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good
financial services:
  • poor
  • moderate
  • good

6. Impacts and concluding statements

6.1 On-site impacts the Technology has shown

Socio-economic impacts


crop production


animal production

Comments/ specify:


risk of production failure


product diversity


production area

Income and costs

farm income


diversity of income sources


Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


contribution to human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Ponds allow the land user to grow crops the whole year round. Furthermore, there are fish in the pond which provide a reliable source of food.

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quantity


soil moisture


6.3 Exposure and sensitivity of the Technology to gradual climate change and climate-related extremes/ disasters (as perceived by land users)

Gradual climate change

Gradual climate change
Season increase or decrease How does the Technology cope with it?
annual temperature increase well

Climate-related extremes (disasters)

Meteorological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
local rainstorm well
local windstorm well
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not well

Other climate-related consequences

Other climate-related consequences
How does the Technology cope with it?
reduced growing period well

6.4 Cost-benefit analysis

How do the benefits compare with the establishment costs (from land users’ perspective)?
Short-term returns:

slightly negative

Long-term returns:


How do the benefits compare with the maintenance/ recurrent costs (from land users' perspective)?
Short-term returns:


Long-term returns:


6.5 Adoption of the Technology

  • > 50%
Of all those who have adopted the Technology, how many did so spontaneously, i.e. without receiving any material incentives/ payments?
  • 0-10%

100% of land user families have adopted the Technology with external material support
The farmer from this case study got a kind of subsidy: For the construction of the nearby road, the builders needed soil. They offered to dig a pond if they could get the soil. They only dug 2 of the 4 meters of the pond debt, the farmer had to hire somebody to dig out the rest. The other land users who have implemented the ponds also collaborated with construction workers to dig the pond. The lack of money hinders most of the farmers to implement the technology.

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
Water available in the dry season for cash crops. The rice fields can be used in the dry season instead of being left bare.
The rice seedlings can be irrigated during the early wet season in case of drought or erratic rainfall.
Diversification of diet and income: fish is available the whole year round.
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
As parts of the rice fields are irrigated and planted during the dry season, there is less wind erosion and the soil is improving.
The fish feed (rice bran and termites) consists of local resources.

6.8 Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks of the Technology and ways of overcoming them

Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the land user’s view How can they be overcome?
If flooded the fish can go away. Nets need to be put around the pond in the wet season. This farmer already does this.
Fingerlings are difficult to find. Find a fish breeder, or breed fish by themselves. Creating niches in the ponds for the offspring, where the bigger fish do not eat it, could do the breeding.
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Fingerlings of different sizes and species are put into the pond. The bigger eat the smaller. Fence off areas for bigger fish, and move the big fish there so they cannot catch the smaller. Or build structures where the smaller fish can hide.

7. References and links

7.1 Methods/ sources of information

  • field visits, field surveys
  • interviews with land users
When were the data compiled (in the field)?


7.2 References to available publications

Title, author, year, ISBN:

Konhel Pith, Local Agricultural Research and Extension Centre LAREC in Kampong Chhnang;

Links and modules

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