Climate-resilient integrated farming systems in Cambodia and Laos

Integrated farming system in Cambodia
Integrated farming system in Cambodia. Photo: Tim Sophea, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA)

Southeast Asia is among the regions hardest hit by climate change, including alarming trends towards more intense rainfall and associated flooding, more intense droughts, and an increase in pests. These changes compound risks to food systems, human and ecosystem health, livelihoods, and infrastructure. The present development pathways in Southeast Asia’s agricultural sector are not sufficiently adapted to the current and future impacts of climate change.

There is a need for change and for making agricultural systems more climate resilient. Integrated farming systems show promise, combining multiple crops and multiple enterprises such as livestock, apiary, and aquaculture on a single farm. They apply ecological principles and dynamics to improve the productivity, resilience, and sustainability of farming/food systems in a holistic, systemic, and context-specific perspective (“whole farm management”).

Novel approaches for small-scale farming in Laos and Cambodia

This project aims to help improve development pathways for small-scale farming in Laos and Cambodia through novel approaches in three areas: farming systems, scaling up pathways beyond the farm level, and education and capacity building.

It links research, education, and practice to develop context-specific knowledge about climate-resilient integrated farming systems. Empirical scientific insights obtained in this way are integrated into higher education systems and beyond to raise awareness among a broad range of actors, thus fostering the upscaling of these farming systems.

landscape in Cambodia
Photo: Tim Sophea, Royal University of Agriculture (RUA)

Research goals

The project’s main objectives are:

  1. To co-develop, test, and evaluate climate-resilient integrated farming systems in different agroecological zones for different climate change scenarios in Cambodia and Laos. The “systems view” inherent to the integrated farming-systems approach goes beyond simply introducing new technologies; instead, it promotes sustainable whole-farm development to enhance the well-being and resilience of farming communities.
  2. To co-develop pathways for scaling up integrated farming systems at the provincial and national level. Recommendations for an operational strategy and action plan will be co-designed with farming system actors from different levels, including extension and advisory services, policymakers, and planners.
  3. Using Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) approaches to integrate field-based knowledge with a systemic perspective on climate-resilient integrated farming systems and the required competences into higher education curricula as well as advanced courses for extension/advisory services, planners, and agricultural policymakers in Cambodia and Laos.

Transnational cooperation

The project combines expertise in research, education, and practice in Cambodia, Laos, and Switzerland. The regular exchange and learning between project partners and stakeholders in Cambodia and Laos constitutes a key pillar of the project, cross-fertilizing integrated farming systems (further) development and helping to identify and foster synergies and innovation for integrated farming systems in similar landscapes. Our partners in Cambodia and Lao PDR are members of the WOCAT network hosted at CDE.