Publications and Reports

Project documents

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Journal articles

Title: Humanising agricultural extension: A review
Authors: Brian R. Cook, Paula Satizábal and Jayne Curnow
Year: April 2021
Publication: World Development (Volume 140)
Abstract: Agricultural extension is booming. This interest is critical in the context of numerous pressing issues linked to agrarian change and rural development. Because of its importance, extension has attracted significant critique for its persistent exclusion of social and political factors. In this light, the history of extension can be thought of as a paradigm composed of approaches aimed at increasing agricultural production through the transfer of technologies from experts to farmers, and a series of criticisms of technology transfer as hampered by neglect of socio-political factors, a process labelled ‘rendering technical’. By reviewing criticisms of extension for its rendering of socio-political factors, we account for the rendering of power, place, and people. Equally important, we offer examples that consolidate critiques in order to open the possibility that humanized extension may more successfully support farmers. Our review is an effort to engage extensionists in order to speak about power to those who attempt to speak truth to power.

Title: The effect of planting on cassava yield and the risk of crop failure in Northwest Cambodia
Authors: Sophanara Phan, Wonprasaid Sodchol, Montgomery Stephanie
Year: 2021
Publication: Asian Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Safety (Vol. 2021, No. 1)
Abstract: Most farmers in Northwest Cambodia plant cassava in the hottest months of the dry season (March or April). Farmers in this region usually attempt to plant crops after occasional storms in the late dry season (February-March) that crops sown at these times are at high risk of crop failure. This study was conducted with the objective of evaluating the effects of time of planting (April, May and June) on cassava yield under two different farming practices (conventional hill and no till) in Northwest Cambodia. The experiment was arranged in a split-plot design with four replications. Results at the Samlout site in 2017-18 showed that planting cassava in June, regardless of farming practice, and planting cassava using the conventional hill practice in May, produced significantly higher yields compared to either practice planted in April (P < 0.05). However, this April planting time did not produce significantly different yields to no till planted in May (P > 0.05). At the same site in the 2018-19, planting either treatment in May and planting with conventional hill treatment in June produced significantly higher yields than planting with no till treatment in April (P < 0.05), but there was no significant difference to the conventional hill treatment planting in April (P > 0.05). Results at the Pailin site in the 2017-18 season showed that there were no significant differences or interaction in yields between any of the treatments (P > 0.05). Results at the Pailin site in 2018-19 showed that plantings using both treatments in April and May produced significantly higher yields compared to both practices in June (P < 0.05). Our research recommends that the altered time of planting in May and June may improve cassava yield and reduce the risk of crop failure. The study suggested that the risks of crop failure and profit losses can be minimised by adjusting planting time in the future.

Title: From Sapphires to Cassava: The Politics of Debt in Northwestern Cambodia.
Authors: Gyorvary, S., & Lamb, V.
Year: 2021
Publication: ACME: an international E-journal for critical geographies

Abstract: Microfinance has attracted increasing attention, not only for its goals to empower the poor but for its potential negative effects that can serve to undermine that core goal of empowerment. In this paper, we examine microfinance debt in the context of Cambodia’s cassava boom and its particular history of resource extraction. Focusing on cassava farmers in Pailin province, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold in northwestern Cambodia, we find that post-conflict Pailin cassava farming is linked with indebtedness to microfinance institutions. As the burden of debt erodes community life and heightens individual anxiety, our analysis of interviews conducted in 2018 shows that Pailin’s small-scale cassava farmers lose capacity to build the solidarity necessary to address problems collectively. Drawing on critical work on debt and historically-situated political ecology, we see a situation shaped—but not determined—by a history in which local elites have controlled significant portions of the local economy, extracting personal benefits. We argue that, in this context, microfinance initiatives extend this longer history of resource extraction as concentrations of power and wealth go unchallenged. Microfinance loans are thus better seen as part of a system of depriving marginalized farmers of choice, rather than empowering them, as part of what Silvia Federici terms the financialization of reproduction. 

Briefing Notes

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