The social and other impacts of a cattle/crop innovation in Cambodia
Agricultural innovations can create assets in poor rural communities but there are few studies of the wider, especially social, impact of such innovations. Farm families, previously engaged in “cut and carry” of wild forage, created time savings by their adoption of forage banks to feed cattle. What they did with this time was not known and this is the focus of this exploratory study as a result of the introduction of a “forage crop based production system” (FCP) in Cambodia. Based on interviews in two villages of farmers themselves and of teachers, the study confirmed that adopter farmers achieved considerable time savings, compared to non-adopters, resulting in agricultural, economic and cultural outcomes. Farmers reported better cattle production and grew cash crops while others developed local services. However, perhaps the major outcome was social, that is, their primary and secondary children’s schooling. Parents reported children experienced time savings converted into considerably better attendance and less lateness. Teachers reportedly agreed and added better attitudes and progress. The results were achieved through a greater understanding of the farmer’s relationship with project grass and legume growth and cattle management particularly during periods of feed deficit. Suggestions for further research are made.
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