Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Siem Reap and Countryside Activities 

Part I: Farming (Rice Growing & Its Process)

Talking about Siem Reap tour, people usually think of temples tour or any other sacred places to visit, but they might forget that there is countryside and there are many rice paddies fields located around the corner of the town. Besides providing beautiful scenery, rice fields is the main source to produce rice which is the most popular and important food for Khmer people. 80 percent of total population is farmer and some of them still prefer cultivate rice crop in traditional ways while some turn to do it by using machines. Growing rice needs to spend labor, time, and money, so it is possible to say that it is not an easy thing to do before we have rice as the final product to eat.

Based on the weather and Calendar of Cambodia, rice is mainly produced in Raining season (from May to October) since there will have enough water supply to support rice farming. However, this practice can also be done during Dry season (from November to April) if there has enough sources of water. For example, the rice fields are located near river or lake or the irrigation systems. The question is that how many steps in order to do rice farming? The brief description below are the stages of doing rice farming.

Angkor Wat temple
Rice field at Bakong Village, Siem Reap

Land Preparation

Farmers usually plow their fields when the soil is wet by using Khmer traditional plow as the tool pulling by two oxen or buffaloes as the power. The soil is plowed to a depth of 70 – 100 mm. Depending on the condition of the soil, it will need to be plowed again from 3 – 6 weeks after the first time of doing it.

Since the development of economy and technology, some of Cambodian farmers turn to use machines like plowing machine to save their time and energy and it provides a good result as well.

Khmer traditional plow pulling by oxen

Khmer traditional plow pulling by buffaloes

Plowing machine


After plowing and leaving it to get into good condition, it is time to plant the rice crops and there are two methods to do so. Farmers can choose to plant their rice crops by either transplanting them from a nursery, which usually takes up 15-20% of the farming area, or broadcasting (scattering over a wide area). They both can be practiced based on location and rice ecosystem in the region they are doing farming.

Transplanting is more common among the two methods because broadcasting can only be done in the rain-fed lowland areas of the country, and it generally gives a lower output than transplanting.

Transplanting, however, is very labor intensive, requiring between 30-40 person-days to establish 1 hectare of rice. If a family does not have enough members to do this work, they will look for exchanging labor. It is Khmer culture from the past that if one family does not have enough labor to do their rice planting, they will exchange labor with their neighbor which means this time, the members from other families come to help them and when it becomes their neighbor turn, they will take turn and revert to help them back. Or, if the family’s economy is good, they can hire labor in the area to help them as well.

Farmers are transplanting rice plant

Transplanted rice plant

Period of taking care the plants

It is the stage that farmers need to take care of their rice planting. During the period that their plants are growing, they will need to weed their fields and use some chemicals to control the weeds. Besides this, they have to use pesticide to control the pests or other insects that damage their crops.

Farmer is weeding the rice field

Farmer is spraying chemical pesticide to control pest

Fertilization is an important stage in rice farming. Besides using animal manure, most farmers use chemical fertilizers for their nurseries and their fields. All fertilizers are applied manually. Farmyard manure is transported by animal-drawn carts during the dry season and placed in strategic piles in the fields. Spreading is done by water movement and during land preparation. Inorganic fertilizers are hand-spread and, where necessary, incorporated by harrowing. 

Organic fertilizer made from animal manure

Inorganic/chemical fertilizer

Water is the most important thing that helps crop growing well. To get this, irrigation system needs to be built in order to supply water to the fields besides nearby rivers or lakes. Some rice-growing areas in Cambodia are irrigated to water supply during the dry season to enable farmers to plant rice two or three times per year. The use of irrigation systems has been increasing in these recent years. However, many farmers will still need to pay to pump water into their farm area, as there may be some distance from the main water channels.

Irrigation system (canal)

Irrigation system (pump water)


After the long period and having many works to do from land preparation stage until period of taking care, it is the time to collect the yields from planted rice. Crops are manually harvested and tied into sheaves. These sheaves are placed on top of the standing stubble or transported to a central threshing site where they are dried for 2-3 days. Depending on locality, threshing is done at a central site in the field or in the village.

Harvesting rice crop by using traditional way (curve knife)

Harvesting rice crop by using machine

crops tried into sheave
A small number of farmers own mechanized cutting or gathering machines, but this is rare due to the high cost of such a machine. Grain is removed from the panicle in a number of ways. For example, Sheaths are laid on the roadway so that they are run over by passing vehicles or hand-threshing is done using a board against which the stools are hit. 

After getting grain, it is time for taking them to be milled in order to get rice as the final product of rice farming. It can be done with Khmer traditional ways or machine.

Rice hand-threshing 

Rice grain after threshing

Rice milling with Khmer traditional tool

Rice milling with machine

Rice grain
Milled rice

TRIP MESSAGE: The activities and spectacular view of countryside in this blog article is available in Siem Reap, kingdom of Cambodia and this interesting scenery is brought to you by TRAILTOAngkortours and Travel. 

Our company is the local tour operator based in Siem Reap, Cambodia established by Khmer local people. With the team that have experience in this tourism industry for more than 12 years, we put all our efforts and commitments to arrange and provide all our value customers an unforgettable trip. Customer services and flexibility are our top principles to work in this business. 

“Satisfaction and enjoyment of our customers are also ours, so we will serve them in the level best from our heart and passion”, President of TRAILTOAngkortours and Travel.  

Interested in our packages? Reach us @www.trailtoangkortours.comOur team will respond to you shortly.

Stay tuned for part II of Siem Reap and Activities blog article! 

Steven Lor, Sales Manager - TRAILTOAngkortours and Travel  

No comments:

Post a Comment