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Feed the Future Helps Cambodian Fish Farmers Achieve Better Harvests

Em Sarom has been a fish farmer for several years. Until recently, she had never considered raising climbing perch, a native species that is uniquely suited to conditions in Cambodia. The fish is resilient to adverse water conditions, fetches high prices, and shows strong year-round demand from buyers.

Cambodian aquaculture farmers have typically preferred popular species like tilapia, which can also garner high prices in certain seasons. However, the resilience of climbing perch and its ability to generate year-round income have helped this species catch on among Cambodian fish farmers.

Over the past year, after working with Feed the Future aquaculture specialists, Em and her husband joined a growing number of fish farmers who are raising climbing perch. By adopting advanced techniques and technologies promoted by Feed the Future programs, Em has seen stunning results. Her 2012 harvest allowed her to sell her perch at the market for $355, a 440 percent increase in sales compared to past seasons when she raised and sold silver barb fish.

In Cambodia, nearly one third of Feed the Future’s aquaculture clients are raising climbing perch. Those who have harvested their ponds are seeing an average sales increase of 75 percent and sizeable improvements in family incomes. By strictly adhering to the program’s improved aquaculture techniques, farmers are raising fish weighing up to 400 grams apiece, which is exceptionally large for this species.

Em became convinced of the benefits of climbing perch after she was sponsored by Feed the Future to visit another nearby farmer who was raising the species. “I learned that climbing perch are easy to raise. They’re more resilient to the environment and they’re better eaters than the silver barbs we raised in the past,” she says. She also learned that climbing perch need less oxygen to survive and that they can be harvested in as few as six months, compared to the 12 months needed for raising other native white fish varieties.

“I’m very happy with the results,” Em says. “After the program finishes, I’m confident I’ll be able to continue raising climbing perch successfully.”

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