What is agroecology ?

Agroecology : a science, a movement and a practice

Sustainable agriculture

Agroecology is a sustainable agriculture that imitate natural process in ecosystems to increase production.

Video from CASC programm, by Cirad

A scientific field

Agroecology is ecology of agroecosystem.

It’s “application of the ecological science to the study, the design and the management of sustainable agroecosystem”. (Gliessman 1998)

A social movement

Agroecology is the political program of sustainable development.

It’s “base control of seeds, biodiversity, field and terroirs, of water, knowledge, culture, commun owning and commun space in the hand of those who feed the world” (FI sur l’Agroécologie, Nyéléni, Mali, 2015)

Some practices

Agroecology is farmers expertise based on diversity value.

It’s improving growing and farming system to improve global productivity of the agroecosystem, imitating biological processes of the ecostystem. (Olivier De Schutter, 2010)

Why  agroecology in Cambodia ?


Because agroecology is an efficient way to :

increase employment opportunities

Agroecology is more lucrative

Improve yield and nutritiVE quality of the production

Agroecology is more efficient

Protect environment and health

Agroecology is more sustainable

Create empowerment

(free from debts and agricultural input dependances)

Agroecology is fairer


How does it work ?

What are the objectives of agroecology  ?

To Improve soil fertility with organic matter and soil's life management

to Recycle biomass and nutrients

To Valorise water ressources

To Valorise beneficial biological interactions

To Boost operational biodiversity

To Optimize the use of energy

Ecosystem : basics notions


The plant produce sugar and release oxygen by fixing the air’s carbon thanks to the light’s power and the water. It’s the photosynthesis.


The trees produce biomass which will come back to the soil and feed it, and they decompose the rocks with the secretion of acids to extract the minerals. They also fill the phreatic tables when it rains and raise the water to the surface when needed, thanks to their deep roots.

Nitrogen (N2)

Nitrogen is fixed by some bacteria and brought to the plant to synthesize amino acids, enzymes and proteins. It constitute 78% of the air we are breathing, this is an inexhaustible resource !


Bacteria mineralize organic matter and solubilize minerals which is essential for plants and animals to feed. Cyanobacteria are the pioneers of soil formation. Other bacteria fix nitrogen in the air.

SOIL's Animals

Soil’s animals decompose plants and dead animals and bring nutrients to the surface of soil. They also create porosity of soil wich is essential for the good penetration of water into the ground.


They are produced by the trees’ roots from rock, raised and connected to organic matter by the earthworms. They form the best nutrients tank when connected with humus.

Carbon from the atmosphere (CO2)

The carbon of the CO2 is, the most important (in quantity) nutrient used by plants to grow. Therefore, it is the main constituent of plants after water.


The mushrooms’ mycelium produces organic matter and agglomerates it by secreting complex sugars. It regulates water in the soil, explores and exploits the soil resources to bring them to plants in exchange of sugar, thanks to mycorrhizae.


Water conducts all solubilized minerals elements and sugars into the cells of all living beings. It provides hydrogen cations. The plants absorb huge amounts of water in the soil and release it with foliar transpiration.


The plants feed animals as well as symbiotic bacteria and mushrooms. They enrich the soil with carbon to feed bacteria, and they provide a cover against the sun and the rain.


Humus is composed of big and stable carbonated molecules which are a product of the decomposition of dead plants and animals. It is essentiel to retain water and nutrients in the soil, and to give the soil a good structure.


The plants need minerals to realize necessary process for their growth. Phosphore, Magnésium, Calcium and Potassium are essential to produce aminate acides ; Bore, Cuivre, Manganèse, Nickel, Iron, Zinc are useful for enzymes.

Ecosystem : basics notions

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agroecological practices


The succession of different crops on the same field, one after another. It makes the control of diseases, pest and weeds easier. It also diversify the nutrients used by the crops.


The plantation of different crops on the same field at the same time enhance complementarity and facilitation effects. It improves overall yields and makes the control of diseases, pest and weeds easier.

Soil cover

A uninterrupted vegetal cover on the soil protects it from the sun and the rain and reduces nutrient loss.


Trees, bushes and hedges planted between crops produce biomass, reduce water loss and protect the crops from the wind.

Direct seeding

Direct seeding is a sowing method wich involve no soil tillage, or a very light one. Thanks to that method, the soil keeps its structure and the soil biologic activity is increased.

Farmers' seeds

The duplication and the exchanges of local seeds from different species between farmers enable the conservation of genetic diversity and the obtaining of seeds adapted to their environment .


The introduction of livestock farming into cropping system adds value to crops’ residues by turning them to manure, which is useful for the soil and the plants.


Composting is a simple way to add nutrient-rich humus which fuels plant growth and restores vitality to depleted soil

Agriculture in Cambodia

Cambodia is predominantly an agricultural country: 80% of Cambodian families own cultivable lands and 68% of Khmer people are farmers.

However they are neglected by government policies and farming work is increasingly depreciated by townspeople. Poverty overwhelmingly affects 70% of rural areas. 31% of families own less than 1 hectare and live with less than 1$ a day.


of cambodians are farmers


of cambodian families own cultivable lands


of poverty in rural context


of families own less than 1 hectar and live with less than 1$/day

Because of these poor life conditions, young Cambodians tend to leave agricultural work to move to cities and border countries to work in factories.

Nevertheless, families living from small-scale agriculture own the key to their food safety and financial autonomy.

Battambang is the first Cambodian agricultural province, called «the rice granary of the country». Thanks to its proximity with Thailand and its tourism policy, the town is in economic expansion.

Agricultural production in Cambodia

Cambodian GDP was 18,05 billions of dollards in 2015 in which 35% comes from agriculture.

In Cambodia, paddy-fields cover up to 3000 hectare. However the average yield is barely more than 2 ton/ha. Indeed, more than half of these soils have low fertility and/or are depleted.

  • Cultivated land in rice 50%
  • Cultivated land in market gardening 30%

Climate, between drought and monsoon, and economy of Cambodia don’t allow farmers to follow conventional farming rate. Use of agricultural input has increased of 28% and pesticides of 33% between 2007 and 2010. After having a poor land because of industrial farming and without possibility to buy more and more agricultural input and pesticides, some of the farmers are forced to rural exodus, unemployment and famine.

You are interested about agroecology ?


Organizations also working in agroecology in Cambodia :

  • GRET Research group of technological exchange
  • ECOLAND Research center about agroecology of Royal University of Cambodia
  • CEDAC Studies and development center
  • CIRD Rural development institute
  • CIRAD French organization of agronomique research
  • AGRISUD International company of agricultural project creation

Photography of agroecology in the world

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of Olivier de Shutter



of Miguel Altieri

Audiovisual ressources

"The harvest of the future" of Marie-Monique Robin

Trailer of the movie – Documentary

Synospis : “By applying to the ground industrial recipes, the agriculture is creating the conditions of its own loss” affirmed in 2011 Olivier de Schutter, special rapporteur on the right to food for the UN, alerted by the food crisis in 2007/2008. The industrial agriculture started after World War 2 and known as ” the green revolution” failed to feed the world, exhausted the soils, the biodiversity and the water resources, greatly contributed to global warming and pushed millions of farmers toward urbans slums. It is mandatory to change the paradigm !
Marie-Monique Robin investigates by gathering interviews with farmers, agricultural engineers, politicians and heads of international organizations on four continents (Africa, Asia, North America and Europe). With Harvests of the Future, one discovers that another commercial and agricultural model that is innovative and productive has already shown its merits, returning to farmers a key role in mankind’s future.

"A River Changes Course" of Kalyanee Mam


Trailer of the movie – Documentary

Synopsis : “We’ve worked so hard on this land,” says Sav Samourn. “And now they’ve come to destroy it all. Sooner or later it will all be gone.” In her directorial debut, award-winning filmmaker Kalyanee Mam travels to her native homeland to capture the stories of three young Cambodians struggling to maintain their traditional way of life while the modern world closes in around them. Deep in the jungle, Sav Samourn struggles as large companies encroach and “progress” claims the life-giving forests. She discovers there’s little room for wild animals, ghosts – and the home she has always known. In a fishing hamlet, Sari Math must quit school to help support his family. But as the fish catch dwindles, Sari and his family find their livelihood threatened. In a village, Khieu Mok must leave to seek work in a Phnom Penh factory to help pay her family’s debts. But city life proves no better, and Khieu struggles between her need to send money home and her duty to be with her loved ones. From Cambodia’s forests to its rivers, from its idyllic rice fields to the capital’s pulsing heart, forces of radical change are transforming the landscape of the country – and the dreams of its people.

Written by Kalyanee Mam

"Honey Than More" of Charles Berling


Trailer of the movie – Documentary

Synopsis :Over the past 15 years, numerous colonies of bees have been decimated throughout the world, but the causes of this disaster remain unknown. Depending on the world region, 50% to 90% of all local bees have disappeared, and this epidemic is still spreading from beehive to beehive – all over the planet. Everywhere, the same scenario is repeated: billions of bees leave their hives, never to return. No bodies are found in the immediate surroundings, and no visible predators can be located.

In the US, the latest estimates suggest that a total of 1.5 million (out of 2.4 million total beehives) have disappeared across 27 states. In Germany, according to the national beekeepers association, one fourth of all colonies have been destroyed, with losses reaching up to 80% on some farms. The same phenomenon has been observed in Switzerland, France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, Austria, Poland and England, where this syndrome has been nicknamed “the Mary Celeste Phenomenon”, after a ship whose crew vanished in 1872.

Scientists have found a name for the phenomenon that matches its scale, “colony collapse disorder,” and they have good reason to be worried: 80% of plant species require bees to be pollinated. Without bees, there is no pollinization, and fruits and vegetables could disappear from the face of the Earth. Apis mellifera (the honey bee), which appeared on Earth 60 million years before man and is as indispensable to the economy as it is to man’s survival.

Should we blame pesticides or even medication used to combat them? Maybe look at parasites such as varroa mites? New viruses? Travelling stress? The multiplication of electromagnetic waves disturbing the magnetite nanoparticles found in the bees’ abdomen? So far, it looks like a combination of all these agents has been responsible for the weakening of the bees’ immune defenses.

Fifty years ago, Einstein had already insisted on the symbiotic relationship binding these pollen gatherers to mankind: “If bees were to disappear from the globe,” he predicted, “mankind would only have four years left to live.”

"Tomorrow" of Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent


Trailer of the movie – Documentary

Synopsis :Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. After a special briefing for the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of mankind before the end of the 21st century, Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, together with a team of four people, carried out an investigation in ten different countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it.

During their journey, they met the pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education. Joining those concrete and positive actions which are already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world…

"A quest for meaning" of Nathanaël Coste and Marc de la Ménardière


Trailer of the movie – Documentary

Synopsis : Two childhood friends travel the world to meet some of the greatest thinkers of our time. This incredible voyage, full of moments of doubt and moments of joy, will lead them to question the very beliefs that have shaped Western civilization. This film captures the change in human consciousness currently happening all over the planet, and the desire to live in harmony with oneself and the world.


Vivre de sa Terre is a French association of agricultural services that actively supports Cambodian farmers and takes part in sustainable rural development in Northwestern Cambodia. We need you !