Mechanical advantage

A new weeding tool for Cambodian rice farmers combined with innovative growing techniques leads to harvests double in size.

When Sorn Ken weeds her rice fields, she likes to have company. Her sister So Van helps her in her field, and Sorn will help So in hers. “We chitchat, and when we get tired we take a rest and keep chitchatting,” she says at the edge of her sister’s field. “It’s kind of fun to weed the field with others.” Sorn says she spends less time weeding her fields than she used to since she started using a mechanical weeding device she helped create with assistance from Oxfam’s partner in Cambodia, RACHANA, an organization based in the southern Takeo province. When farmers use this new tool, they can accomplish in a few hours what used to take them many days.

Oxfam supported RACHANA in designing and testing the mechanical weeders that help farmers grow more rice. Switching to innovative rice-growing systems and using a mechanical weeder can create more than 100 percent gains in production—a huge improvement for small-scale rice growers like Sorn and her sister.

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