Fostering Sustainable Agriculture Through Applied Research and Academic Partnerships 

The Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture (ISA) project has made significant progress in advancing work in the field of agroecology. One noteworthy initiative focuses on applied research and partnerships with diverse academic institutions and research organizations and plays a crucial role in supporting students with field assignments in Cambodia and welcoming researchers striving for practical solutions, aligning with the project's overarching aim of sustainable agricultural development.

Academic Partnerships

ISA has cultivated valuable partnerships with universities, research institutions, and platforms, which play a crucial role in supporting its objectives. These collaborations enables the project to tap into the combined knowledge and expertise of a diverse range of stakeholders. Noteworthy partners include institutions like HAFL, NADEL, KSU (Kansas State University), CIRAD (Centre for Agricultural Research and Development), ASEA (Agroecology in Southeast Asia), and CASIC (Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Intensification Consortium), each making a unique contribution to the project's success.

The collaboration with HAFL, National University of Battambang, and CIRAD (Montpellier SupAgro), in particular, holds significant promise. Students from HAFL are offered the chance to participate in field assignments, providing them with invaluable insights into the technical, social, and organizational aspects of agriculture in developing countries. This hands-on experience broadens their perspectives and equips them with the practical knowledge needed to address real-world challenges in sustainable agriculture.

"Collaborating with Swisscontact and NUBB through our Tripartite agreement is invaluable for us and for me as supervisors of HAFL BSc and MSc students’ research assignments in developing countries. It gives HAFL students in International Agriculture the chance to engage in sustainable agricultural projects in Cambodia and to collaborate with peer Khmer students, learning and growing together."
Said Alessandra Giuliani Research and Teaching Associate.

Research Projects

The ISA team has already hosted a roster of students who have conducted research under the project's umbrella. These include:

  • Julia Heeb's work on ‘Conflict Sensitive Programme Management (CSPM) Assessment and Strategy Development.’
  • Céline Keiser's research on ‘Assessing Livestock Manure Management and Use by Smallholder Farmers in Battambang Province.’
  • Sofia Marcon's study on ‘Cover crops implementation in mango and longan orchards, analyzing their impact in Battambang province, Cambodia.’
  • Jade Boucher's ‘Multi-criteria Analysis of an Agroecological Transition for Irrigated Rice Crops in Battambang Lowlands.’
  • Lovis Herberner's assessment of ‘Farmers' Attitudes towards Conservation Agriculture and the identification of possible indicators to measure agricultural practices in the Kanghot area.’

Research work from 2022 - 2023

Sofia Macron's study investigated cover crop implementation in mango and longan orchards, aiming to understand the opportunities and constraints of cover crops in the fruit tree sector, as well as farmers' knowledge and attitudes towards them. Through extensive data collection methods, her research revealed important findings, indicating a significant interest and satisfaction among farmers who adopted cover crops, despite the relatively low number of Conservation Agriculture (CA) practitioners. The study highlighted cover crops' benefits, including weed suppression, improved soil fertility, decreased soil erosion, and reduced production costs.  

Jade Boucher's research focused on multi-criteria analysis in Kanghot, involving 58 farmers across five villages to explore rice cultivation aspects and the implications of transitioning to agroecological practices. Her findings provided valuable insights into rice variety preferences, land preparation, fertilization strategies, pesticide use, yields, cost dynamics, labor allocation, and farmers' responses to agroecological concepts. These insights lay the foundation for further investigations and policy considerations to optimize sustainable agricultural practices.  

Additionally, Lovis Herberner's research assessed farmers' attitudes towards Conservation Agriculture in the Kanghot area, identifying potential indicators for measuring agricultural practices. Incorporating Focus Group Discussions and a regenerative index, the study aimed to evaluate the suitability of existing indicators for Cambodian agriculture. Collectively, these research endeavors contribute to the broader understanding and promotion of sustainable agricultural practices.

Research topics within the ISA framework have played a pivotal role in advancing the organization's mission to promote agroecology and regenerative agriculture in Cambodia. These research studies have yielded valuable insights and practical solutions crucial for facilitating the transition to regenerative agriculture. ISA's studies on cover crop implementation in orchards, multi-criteria analysis in rice cultivation, and the assessment of farmers' attitudes towards conservation agriculture have collectively deepened the organization's understanding of challenges and opportunities in implementing sustainable farming practices. In the end, these efforts contribute significantly to the adoption of agroecology and regenerative agriculture in the region.

The Power of Academic Collaborations

The partnerships between Swisscontact, Swiss universities and CIRAD as exemplified by ISA’s activities, are mutually beneficial. Students gain practical experience and conduct applied research, while the projects benefit from high-quality support and fresh perspectives. This synergy between academia and sustainable agricultural development is a powerful engine driving positive change in developing regions.

"The tripartite collaboration of a field research assignment provides good opportunities for students of National University of Battambang working with students coming from Switzerland for joint research work. The joint research work produces not only research findings, but also culture exchanges for them to learn from each other as well as English language improvement of Cambodian students."
Said Pao SREAN, PhD, Dean, National University of Battambang


ISA is excited to welcome more students in 2024. Our upcoming research will cover various topics, including assessing cover crops, exploring opportunities and challenges for private sector engagement, studying water access and practice adoption, examining indigenous soil knowledge and its impact on Agroecology interest and adoption, evaluating indicators of Agroecology transition impact, conducting a biofunctool study, assessing soil quality and fertility, and studying biodiversity at the farm level. We look forward to delving into these important areas of research.

ISA commitment to applied research and its collaborations with academic institutions and research organizations are instrumental in advancing the goals of the Innovation for Sustainable Agriculture project.