Home gardens for consumption and cash crop production [Cambodia]

ច្បារដំណាំ (Khmer)

technologies_1628 - Cambodia

Completeness: 82%

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:

Home gardens, containing tree, shrub, herbs, vine, tuber layers as well as poultry, produce food for household consumption as well as an additional income.

2.2 Detailed description of the Technology


Home gardens are a traditional setting in Cambodia, where they appear around nearly each house. All the seven layers of production occur, with a tree canopy, lower trees, shrubs, herbs, a soil cover, roots and tubers as well as a climbing layer, but not all layers can be found in each garden. The overlapping production allows a high productivity on a small area, and the trees/canopy provide a comfortable microclimate for both humans and livestock. The products of the home gardens are consumed by the family, surplus is given to neighbours or sold, and provide an additional income. One or more of the crops are produced in bigger amounts to serve as a cash crop. It can be coconuts close to the city, mangoes that are processed, sugarcane or vegetables like winged beans for the market, bamboo for handicrafts or constructions. Poultry is free ranging in the home gardens, thus when short annual plants like water spinach are planted they are protected with bamboo or net fences. The poultry, mostly chicken, but as well ducks, Muscovy ducks, and others, forages in the waste and eats bugs and worms.

The home gardens are planted to produce food, to provide additional income source and assure a comfortable microclimate. Medicinal plants, as well as plants for handicrafts like bamboo, are grown in the home gardens. Due to a lack of labour availability on the farms, the gardens are only poorly maintained. Some NGOs try to implement the production of more annual crops in the home gardens, but fail due to this constraint and the fact that leafy vegetables are collected from the wild during the wet season.

When a new house is built, canopy trees like coconuts or sugar palms are planted, sometimes following a square pattern, with other trees in between. In other gardens, no pattern can be found, as trees are planted more randomly, or left growing on their own. The seedlings growing in and around trash piles are transplanted to more suitable places, sometimes seedlings from grafted varieties are bought from the market.
Mainly annual crops, like yam, are fertilized with cow manure or compost before the sowing. Due to a lack of irrigation water, most farmers only grow annuals during the wet season. During the dry season, the vegetables are bought from other provinces or countries.

The analysed area is flat (slope < 2%), tropic (dry and wet season), and the soils are mostly sandy or loamy. The soils on the fields contain little organic matter (low soil fertility, acidification, small amount of cattle, area has been deforested a long time ago) and the groundwater table is rather high (2 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 home gardens (subsistence) and complement their income by producing handicrafts or through off-farm income / remittances from family members working in other places. Gathering of wild food (plants, animals, and mushrooms) is also of importance for the diet. 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 that 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

Specify the spread of the Technology:
  • evenly spread over an area
If precise area is not known, indicate approximate area covered:
  • 10-100 km2

There is a smooth transition between home gardens and orchards, as well as between home gardens and commercial garden. Thus a quantification of the area is difficult. But around 10 % of the village areas are used as home gardens.

2.6 Date of implementation

If precise year is not known, indicate approximate date:
  • more than 50 years ago (traditional)

2.7 Introduction of the Technology

Specify how the Technology was introduced:
  • as part of a traditional system (> 50 years)
Comments (type of project, etc.):

There have always been home gardens. There is a lot of research carried out, with species and varieties spreading among farmers. Some NGOs also try to implement the production of more annual vegetables in the home gardens, but they are abandoned as soon as the NGOs leave.

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

Land use mixed within the same land unit:


Specify mixed land use (crops/ grazing/ trees):
  • Agroforestry



  • Annual cropping
  • Perennial (non-woody) cropping
  • Tree and shrub cropping
Annual cropping - Specify crops:
  • cereals - rice (upland)
  • root/tuber crops - sweet potatoes, yams, taro/cocoyam, other
  • root/tuber crops - cassava
  • vegetables - melon, pumpkin, squash or gourd
Perennial (non-woody) cropping - Specify crops:
  • banana/plantain/abaca
Tree and shrub cropping - Specify crops:
  • citrus
  • coconut (fruit, coir, leaves, etc.)
  • fruits, other
  • mango, mangosteen, guava
  • papaya

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

Forest/ woodlands

Forest/ woodlands

Type of tree:
  • Bamboo bamboo

Major land use problems (compiler’s opinion): Overgrazing, low soil fertility, sandy soils, monocultures, soil left bare after ploughing, wind and dust storms, climate change.
Major land use problems (land users’ perception): Lack of water in the dry season, low soil fertility.
Type of cropping system and major crops comments: Cash and food crops depend highly on personal preferences.

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

  • agroforestry
  • beekeeping, aquaculture, poultry, rabbit farming, silkworm farming, etc.
  • home gardens

3.6 SLM measures comprising the Technology

vegetative measures

vegetative measures

  • V1: Tree and shrub cover
  • V2: Grasses and perennial herbaceous plants

Type of vegetative measures: scattered / dispersed

3.7 Main types of land degradation addressed by the Technology

soil erosion by wind

soil erosion by wind

  • Et: loss of topsoil
chemical soil deterioration

chemical soil deterioration

  • Cn: fertility decline and reduced organic matter content (not caused by erosion)
  • Ca: acidification
water degradation

water degradation

  • Ha: aridification
  • Hg: change in groundwater/aquifer level

Main causes of degradation: soil management (Soil left bare after ploughing), crop management (annual, perennial, tree/shrub) (Monocultures of annual crops (rice))
Secondary causes of degradation: overgrazing (Uncontrolled grazing on fallow fields), change in temperature (More hot days, climate change), wind storms / dust storms (Human induced dust storms, wind storms due to climate change.), droughts (Climate change), labour availability (High migration rates), education, access to knowledge and support services (Agricultural knowledge lost during the Khmer Rouge Regime.), war and conflicts (Agricultural knowledge 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):

Example of a homegarden with different layers. Coconut palms present the top layer, different vines grow on trellises, bananas and a dwarf papaya form an intermediate layer, pumpkins form the soil cover and Canna represents the edible roots. Many edible wild plants would grow by themselves between the planted ones, and would also be consumed.

Kampong Chhnang
Date: 2014

Technical knowledge required for field staff / advisors: moderate
Technical knowledge required for land users: moderate (Each garden is different.)
Main technical functions: improvement of ground cover, increase in organic matter, increase in nutrient availability (supply, recycling,…), increase of biomass (quantity), promotion of vegetation species and varieties (quality, eg palatable fodder), spatial arrangement and diversification of land use
Secondary technical functions: water harvesting / increase water supply, improvement of water quality, buffering / filtering water, sediment retention / trapping, sediment harvesting, reduction in wind speed

Scattered / dispersed
Vegetative material: T : trees / shrubs, F : fruit trees / shrubs, C : perennial crops
Number of plants per (ha): n/a

Fruit trees / shrubs species: Sugar palm, coconut, mango, custard apple, bananas, limes.
Perennial crops species: Lemon grass, bamboo.
Other species: Eggplants, winged beans, yard long beans, pumpkins, cucumbers.


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. Planting of the selected trees and other plants. Whole year

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
Labour Labour 1.0 10.0 10.0 100.0
Equipment Tools 1.0 20.0 20.0 100.0
Plant material seeds 1.0 5.0 5.0 100.0
Plant material seedlings 1.0 45.0 45.0 100.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology 80.0
Total costs for establishment of the Technology in USD 80.0

4.5 Maintenance/ recurrent activities

Activity Timing/ frequency
1. Harvesting Depends on the size of the garden and the crops.
2. Planting and fertilizing Depends on the farmers' preference for a given crop

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 60.0 60.0 100.0
Plant material seeds 1.0 3.0 3.0 100.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology 63.0
Total costs for maintenance of the Technology in USD 63.0

Machinery/ tools: Depending on the planted crops a knife, hatchet, spate and hoe.
The costs were calculated for 2014 for an “average” home garden that is newly established on a cleared land. It is not based on one case study, but on discussions with many farmers.

4.7 Most important factors affecting the costs

Describe the most determinate factors affecting the costs:

The labour is the most expensive in the home gardens. This is problematic as the labour availability is decreasing due to high migration rates.

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):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Soil texture (> 20 cm below surface):
  • medium (loamy, silty)
Topsoil organic matter:
  • medium (1-3%)
  • low (<1%)
If available, attach full soil description or specify the available information, e.g. soil type, soil PH/ acidity, Cation Exchange Capacity, nitrogen, salinity etc.

Home gardens are used in the whole of Kampong Chhnang Province, even in urban areas.

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
Water quality: People use it for drinking after filtering or boiling.

5.5 Biodiversity

Species diversity:
  • low
Comments and further specifications on biodiversity:

Only degraded forests are in the area

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:
  • poor
  • average
Individuals or groups:
  • individual/ household
Level of mechanization:
  • manual work
  • women
  • men
Indicate other relevant characteristics of the land users:

Land users applying the Technology are mainly common / average land users
Population density: 10-50 persons/km2
Annual population growth: 0.5% - 1%
Off-farm income specification: Handicraft, remittances and factory work
Different crops are used as cash crops.

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


fodder production


wood production


risk of production failure


product diversity

Water availability and quality

drinking water availability

Comments/ specify:

Bioremediation of groundwater.

demand for irrigation water

Comments/ specify:

if more perennials (trees) are planted.

Income and costs

diversity of income sources

Comments/ specify:

Otherwise only rice is grown. Bamboo is used for handicraft.


Comments/ specify:

Depending on crops. Most home garden crops have an excellent cost/benefit ratio.

Socio-cultural impacts

food security/ self-sufficiency


health situation

Comments/ specify:

Together with food collected from the wild, improves the mainly rice based dishes.

contribution to human well-being

Comments/ specify:

Increased income, income diversification, food security, food diversification

Ecological impacts

Water cycle/ runoff

water quality

Comments/ specify:

Bioremediaiton of groundwater.


soil cover

Comments/ specify:

Permanent soil cover

nutrient cycling/ recharge

Comments/ specify:

Nutrients from groundwater are returned to the cycle.

soil organic matter/ below ground C

Comments/ specify:

If the leaves are not burnt.

Biodiversity: vegetation, animals

biomass/ above ground C


plant diversity


animal diversity

Climate and disaster risk reduction

wind velocity


6.2 Off-site impacts the Technology has shown

groundwater/ river pollution

Comments/ specify:

Bioremediation of groundwater.

buffering/ filtering capacity

Comments/ specify:

Bioremediation of groundwater.

wind transported sediments


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 not known
Climatological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
drought well
Hydrological disasters
How does the Technology cope with it?
general (river) flood not known

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:


Long-term returns:

very positive

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

very positive

Long-term returns:

very positive

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?
  • 91-100%

Nearly every farm has at least a small patch of land with some fruits/trees/vegetables
100% of land user families have adopted the Technology without any external material support. As almost every farm has a small home garden the number of farmer families could not be specified. Nearly everybody already has a small home garden. Species and varieties are spontaneously spreading between farms

6.7 Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities of the Technology

Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the land user’s view
To produce fruits and vegetables for home consumption
Many types of fruits and vegetables can be produced on a small area of land, for home consumption and to sell the surplus
The home gardens are close to the houses, all the members of the family can help, and it is possible to look at the house at the same time
Strengths/ advantages/ opportunities in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view
Increased food security and health
Diversification of income sources
Improvement of the soil fertility where farmers use compost

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?
Lack of water for irrigation Build household ponds
Insects are attracted to the crops, and spread when crops are grown together Use integrated pest management
Prices sometimes drop for seasonal crops, like mangoes, and farmers cannot sell the crop Process the fruits (e.g. drying) so they can be preserved
Weaknesses/ disadvantages/ risks in the compiler’s or other key resource person’s view How can they be overcome?
Lack of good varieties and selection, lack of knowledge about grafting fruit trees Organize seed exchange, organize grafting and seed saving trainings
Lack of knowledge about fertilization, not all farmers know about the benefits of compost or manure. Leaves are often burned in the home gardens Provide composting and mulching training

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:

Kumar & Nair (Ed.). 2006. Tropical Homegardens. A time tested example of sustainable agroforestry. Dordrecht: Springer

Available from where? Costs?

Links and modules

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