Cambodian Cattle Health & Productivity Project- A Long Term, Locally Sustainable Solution To Poverty

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1. Cambodian Cattle Health & Productivity Project- A Long Term, Locally Sustainable Solution To Poverty PART I OVERVIEW AIMS 1.To improve the livelihood of individual…
  • 1. Cambodian Cattle Health & Productivity Project- A Long Term, Locally Sustainable Solution To Poverty PART I OVERVIEW AIMS 1.To improve the livelihood of individual villagers through improving the health and productivity of their cattle, (by producing more feed for them from currently barren land). 2.To ultimately aid the Cambodian economy by reducing the need for agricultural imports, and enabling local production of beef for International Tourists (currently imported from Thailand). *Productivity means the production of more meat for market, milk for calves, increased fertility rates (from the present one calf every 2-5 years to 2-3 calves every 3 years), and stronger working oxen. FIRST STAGES The sourcing of a perennial crop that can survive both the wet and dry seasons in Cambodia, or an annual crop that can be propagated by the villagers; which can provide a food source for the cattle without interfering with rice production. Soil analysis to determine the soil has the necessary composition to grow the appropriate crop, water requirements established and costing done. SECOND STAGE The introduction of this crop into a trial village. The selected village will be readily accessible, with a supportive local Chief and team of Project workers. OTHER STAGES Once the crop is established, Animal Health, Husbandry and Breeding Programs will be introduced. The details are outlined further in this document. HOW Initially external funding and expertise will be required but the project is to be a fully sustainable one, with the education programs being run by Khmer Specialists involved in the project. The project will start with one or two trial villages before being extended further. The chiefs of the Villages involved will be educated by the Khmer Specialists who will in turn educate their villagers and so on. The aim is to have no Western input within 5-10, depending on the nature of the crop. WHO AM I? 1
  • 2. I am a veterinarian who developed a passion for Cambodia whilst travelling there; I will be working from my base in Queenstown NZ and my situation is flexible enough for me to travel to Cambodia as required. I started as a large animal vet, mainly cattle, before travelling to England and developing my passion for surgery in the domestic animal field. I have travelled the world extensively (largely with my 8 year old son). I am very passionate about people and feel strongly that any suggested change must be wanted and not just imposed on others. The Western way is not always the best way; peoples’ tradition, methods and culture must be respected. I see my role as one of initiator and co-ordinator, and if we are doing our job right, there will be no requirement for any of us longer term. The following project outline is in its preliminary stage of development and I would gratefully welcome any feedback or assistance regarding this project. There is much more research yet to be done, and input to be sought from experienced people in each area covered by the project. WHAT IS REQUIRED NEXT- 1.An experienced horticulturist to advise on suitable crops 2 An accountant/financier to determine cost. 2. Funding HOW HAS THE PROJECT BEEN DEVELOPED SO FAR When visiting Cambodia, I had some ideas that I thought could help improve the livelihood of the rural villages. I met up with Prum Vich from the Animal Health and Production Department in Siem Reap, to discuss the ideas with him, unsure whether they would be of any value. Prum Vich was very excited and set up a meeting with myself, and his boss Mr. Tat-Bun Chhoeun, upon his return from Vietnam. On Wed 2nd of April I met with Mr. Tat-Bun Chhoeun, Director of the Department of Agriculture , Siem Reap Province; Dr Prum Vich Chief of Animal Health and Production Office, Department of Agriculture, Siem Reap Province; and Mr. Sim Thorath, Animal Health and Production Office, Siem Reap Province to present my ideas for establishing a sustainable development project for the cattle owners of rural Cambodia, starting with the Siem Reap Province. Mr Tat-Bun Chhoeun assured me he would support the project in every possible way as he felt the proposition would provide a long term solution to the poverty in Cambodia, particularly as 70% of the Cambodian people are farmers (the Government objective is to increase this to 75%) and there is 96,400 ha of rural land completely unutilized in the Siem Reap Province alone. He requested I (with the help of his staff) write a detailed proposal. He would in turn present this to the Minister of MAFF, Siem Reap Province; the Minister of Foreign Affairs and he would write letters of support to them on my behalf. He said he would take care of everything re immigration for me, or anyone else helping with the project. I spent several days with staff from the Animal Health Department visiting Villages and talking to Chiefs through interpreters. This was to gauge what the Chiefs wanted which influenced the development of 2
  • 3. the Project and how they felt about my ideas. They seemed very keen to make any reasonable changes they could to improve the livelihood of their villages. The concept of fencing the cattle and preventing them from going under the houses seemed very strange, but the interpreter felt they were prepared to try it. One village we visited was already housing their pigs but the cattle had never been fenced. Although there are serious public health implications (described later) of animals living under the house, I think it is better initially to fence the crops to protect them rather than confine the cattle from the outset. Following each visit there was extensive discussion with the staff from the Animal Health and Production Department in Siem Reap, to ensure the solutions proposed were workable and genuinely sustainable. I would type up the information summary, as I understood it, and then go over each point with the Department of Agriculture staff, and remove, add or modify text as they advised. When I left Cambodia in May 2007 (I visited Cambodia on my way home to live in NZ, after living abroad for 15 years), two English Volunteers working with Earthwalkers in Cambodia tried to progress the project in my absence. One was Nathan Nelson who has project management, marketing and website development experience; the other was Hannah Padley a new graduate veterinarian from the UK. Despite them being very keen to put time and energy into the project, they did not have the local support to make progress, which was disappointing. I returned in November 2007 to see what the problem was and Prum Vich apologised for not being able to support the Project in my absence. He was not able to spend time and resources on the project as it did not have funding yet and other work had regretfully taken him away from it. In Cambodia, things tend not to proceed unless there is funding available. I had not realised this was the case, thinking it possible to develop the details of the Project first, then seek funding. Prum Vich suggested I phoned Sen Sovann who was very experienced with NGO’s, and may be able to help. Instead, we arranged a meeting to meet Sen in person at his office in Phnom Phen. [Sen is a Fulbright Scholar, earning a MSc in Veterinary Epidemiology and Community Health from the School of Veterinary Medicine of Louisiana State University in 1996. He has been actively been involved in various livestock- base community developments, veterinary academic program development and teaching, as well as disease control administration. He has also developed a national disease control program, and participated in regional animal disease control program and grassroots animal health care. Sen has established trustworthy networks in Cambodia in the area of rural livelihood, and small enterprise development in association and cooperation with local NGOs, Associations, Government and International Agencies]. Although I initially found Sen very enthusiastic, his stand is that once I have the funding, he will look at the project in detail, so the Project has come to a temporary standstill. CO-OPERATION WITH OTHER PROJECTS My experience in Cambodia and what I was told by many people in Cambodia, is that co-operation in the areas of charitable work is uncommon. 3
  • 4. I would like to co-ordinate wherever possible with concurrent projects in the area and this has to be the most effective way forward. It makes sense to pool resources/knowledge where there is a common goal, to achieve the desired outcomes in a more effective way, and in a shorter time. If this Project needs to be incorporated within another large agency’s work, in part or in whole, to be effective, I would be fully supportive of that. It would be great to still be involved, as I am very passionate about the work. PART II-Project Stages 1.THE PROJECT PROPOSAL SO FAR There will be 7 major parts to the Project with several steps required for each stage. Finding the appropriate specialists for each area of the project is key to its success 1. VILLAGE SELECTION Using trial villages allows resources to be concentrated, protocols developed and difficulties identified, before extending the process to a larger area. The selected village will be readily accessible, with a supportive local Chief and team of Project workers. Hopefully neighbouring Chiefs/farmers will see the results, which will motivate them to take on the new practices. There is competition between the villages, which is likely to encourage this. Two preliminary villages were selected to trial (please see appendix I). The details of these villages are included as examples but do not need to be the trial villages we use. The villages need to have enough free land to provide maintenance/supplementary feed without interfering with rice production. Smaller villages may be easier to manage, all cattle can be involved thus avoiding conflict between neighbours. It may also be easier to gain unity and co-operation within a smaller village village. With further reflection I don’t think the second Village (Tonlorp Village, Kokdong Commune) is suitable as a trial. Although it is the most in need of support, it is in quite an isolated location and not an ideal place to start. 2. DETERMINATION OF THE INDIVIDUAL VILLAGE PLAN. 4
  • 5. a) Determine which areas of the village and which cattle are to be involved in the trial (if not all). I think the most practical way is to take a section of the village as a block to grow the crop to make fencing and crop management easier. b) Measure the available free area to be planted and ensure the growth will be adequate for the number of cows involved. At present, stocking rates are 2 cows/ha, or 3-4 cows/ha if grass is cut for them from rice field paths and free land. It is standard husbandry in all villages for the stock to move freely throughout the village. Cattle, pigs and poultry sleep under the houses mobilising ammonia gases, viruses, bacteria, parasites and dust which pose potentially serious health implications (such as respiratory disease) for the families, particularly the children and elderly or infirm. Fencing/tethering the cattle is important not only for the management of the crops but also for the health of the villagers; but that may need to come in time. c) Determine the nature of fencing required to protect the growing forage crops/grass and keep the stock from under the house. Theft may be a problem if temporary electric fencing is tried but it seems the cheapest, easiest and most reliable method at this stage. Fences made from bamboo cut from the forest is a low cost solution, but they must be robust to prevent the pushing through of hungry cattle onto growing crops. NB We must look at the impact of this on the jungle itself before considering this option. 3. THE PROVISION OF MAINTAINANCE AND SUPPLEMENTARY FEED a) An experienced horticultural/agricultural adviser is imperative for the project success and I have not succeeded yet in finding someone. Suggestions for the maintenance feed so far have been the S184 legume, and Luceana Epi-Epi (which is high protein, can be grown around the houses and has the duality of being able to be eaten by the families and be mixed with rice straw as cattle feed), as they thrive in dry areas. They can be planted in waste areas and on the paths between the rice fields but they will not survive the monsoon floods, which last four months per year). Please see Appendix II for cattle feed information from Mr. Werner Sturn. b) Determine the cost of the seed or other agricultural products, and where to purchase them. c) Assess soil fertility and pH. d) Assess solutions for consistent water supply. 5
  • 6. Why there is such a feed problem and possible solutions are outlined below: Food shortage is a major contributing factor to the cattle problems as there is virtually no food available between March and October of every year. The dry season is between November and May and the Wet (Monsoon) season is between May and October. Rice is grown from June until Oct-Dec depending on the species grown. The low-lying land is flooded to the depth of 0.3-0.6 meters from June to September and the highest stress period for the cattle is April-July, which causes significant disease outbreaks. This is due to the following factors: 1. High climatic temperatures of around 37C 2. Abrupt climatic changes within a day 3. Lack of water and/or very poor quality water when the rain first comes 4. Cattle are treated severely to force them to plough the fields, as they are too weak to work well. 5. Lack of food, as the scarce local grasses are only grazable February-March. In addition, the cattle are kept off the rice fields from June until Oct -Dec depending on the rice varieties grown. a) The rice varieties Senpidor, IR66, RomPe and *Neng Pei take 3 months to grow and yield approximatly1.3T/ha b) The rice varieties Phka Romdul (yields the most Riel/kg), Romchhet, Romchhang, k1, *NengNoi, *Kulein take 5 months to grow and yield approximately 1.35 T/ha c) Rice varieties K4, K9, *NengMao, *Nenug kung take 6-9 months to grow and yield approximately 1.5T/ha * Local varieties Current rice prices range from 500-1000 Riel/kg (currently $1 US= 4000 riel) I feel it would be prudent to encourage selected villages to grow rice varieties from groups a) and b) as the land will be freed up sooner, they will get more money/kg for their rice, and will not have concerns regarding inadequate rain affecting the crop. This is also one of the Governments aims but there is resistance due to the increased difficulty in harvesting the rice crops in the water, as it is physically more difficult. The advantages however are a crop every year and enough rice grown for food. 6
  • 7. The project must not compromise rice production, which is a long established form of income. Supplementary Feed Options The supplementary foods I have seen given are as follows, there may be other sources: 1. Rice straw and rice bran is given in almost every village; the rice straw has little nutritional value but the rice bran is highly digestible, providing it is fresh. The rice straw is stored in open stacks so what little nutritional value present, will be more readily leached by weathering. Covering of stacks to prevent nutrients from the damaging effects of water and sun is a simple, yet helpful step. 2. Banana flowers/leaves are sometimes given in wealthier villages. Not all villages have access to these, they are a human food, and sell for a good price at market. 3. Bamboo leaves-mixed with other supplementary feed 4. Forage from the jungle-significance to the jungle ecologically? 5. Forage of grasses from along the rice field paths or free land. 4. and 5. are done at a significant cost in time and labour to the villagers. The food source is often a long distance away from the villages and most of the families who feed 3-4 cattle need 1-2 people a day to collect the feed. This still provides inadequate feed but keeps children out of school affecting their education and opportunities; keeps adults from the rice fields and prevents the opportunity for other work. Supplementary feeding is done between May and July and is less practiced in the poorer areas and where the oxen are not used for field work (when the oxen are used for work, the farmers realise the importance of the cattle health to their livelihood). Supplementary feed is imperative for the improvement of cattle health and productivity, we just need to find the most practical, energy and cost efficient feed available. Initially it may need to be provided but at a later date, grown. 4. ANIMAL HEALTH/VETERINARY CARE Provide anthelmintics at regular intervals to be administered by Veterinary staff to ensure uniformity initially, and carry out any disease prevention/treatment/vaccination that is considered essential. 7
  • 8. Mann Sokhum is the Angkor Chum District MAFF Veterinarian working with the selected villages could be a significant adviser and coordinator. I have not met him myself. (Dr.Vich and Dr Sokhum were/are going to fax or email me information on endemic parasites and diseases, their relevance, if any treatment/vaccinations are given routinely or otherwise (if so, what is given and by whom), and any associated Government schemes. We also need to know if they consider any routine vaccinations or treatment to be essential for villagers’ or animal health. Please see below for the current Veterinary Situation in Cambodia From 1995-2007, International Organisations such as CARERE, VNU, FAO, ADRA, PADEK, AHBY and ADESS, worked in co-operation with the Cambodian Government to set up an animal health care system, so each village would have its own village veterinarian. Each trainee had 25 days of teaching followed by 3 months of follow up in the field. The scheme was very successful, resulting in about 1080 veterinarians being trained in the Siem Reap Province consisting of 12 Districts and 915 villages (875 of which are officially acknowledged by the Government). They were taught things such as clinical signs, treatments, injection techniques, dosage calculations and charging. There are several difficulties facing the village veterinarians. These include the following:- a) They are private veterinarians working for a population with extremely limited resources. b) They are poorly equipped. They have thermometers, syringes, antibiotic and vitamins but no stethoscopes, mouth gags, stomach tubes, lab facilities (except where the Provincial and Department Veterinarian is involved with managing diseases outbreaks of Haemorrhagic Septicaemia and Foot and Mouth disease), and rectal examination is an unacceptable practice. c) There is no nearby pharmacy for the remote Provincial vets to obtain and store vaccines, antibiotics and other treatments, therefore they tend not to carry or use these products much. Many farmers are interested in vaccination as they have seen its success in earlier trials, but they are not often provided even if requested. The problems are storage; access, and one vaccine bottle may be sufficient for many animals when they only have one animal to vaccinate on each occasion. d) Additional training and refresher training is required. 8
  • 9. 5. SETTING UP OF DISTRICT PHARMACIES OR VETERINARY GROUPS This will enable the appropriate storage of Veterinary supplies. At present there is no means for stock to stored, supplied as and when required, and with a rapid enough turnover to ensure usage before expiration dates. Apparently many farmers are keen to vaccinate but 1 vial may contain more vaccination doses than they require, there is not normally facilities to appropriately store the vaccines and it is expensive for the individual veterinarians to have vaccine in stock. 6. EDUCATION PROGRAM This would include the following areas: a) Feed management, including the use of manure. I believe i
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