It was a busy week last week. It seems like I have been saying that more often lately.
I spent Monday and Tuesday in the field testing the solar pump on a 650 square meter field.
We left in the early afternoon on Monday and spent the rest of the day visiting the Lors Thmey collection points and fixing the solar pump.
Grade one cucumbers fetch around 1200 riel (US$ 0.30) per kg and grade two fetches around 600 riel (US$ 0.15) per kg.
On Tuesday morning we visited a few farms to see which would be suitable for the trial.
We went back to a village that had some mild flooding in the video above where the day before it was totally dry.
The field that we were going to test the pump on was flooded, so we went to another farm.
At first we revved up the diesel pump.
Doesn’t the solar pump sound better?
After conducting the trial, the plan was to head back into Phnom Penh Tuesday night and then leave again for Prey Veng and Kandal provinces to fully install the solar pumps for the 2-month trial. However, an oversight with my visa prompted me to spend Wednesday and part of Thursday sorting things out.
I didn’t realize that the last 3 pages in your passport was meant for amendments and endorsements and cannot be used for visas. These were the only three untouched pages in my passport, so there was no place to put my visa extension. After much wringing of hands and crawling through the State Department website, I accepted that I needed to apply for a new passport. Since all new passports are printed in the US and then shipped abroad, it would take 10 days to process and for each day I was in Cambodia without a visa, it would cost me $10. Roughly, it would work out to be around $200 before I could get my new passport and visa. This was something that I really didn’t want to happen. Luckily, the Embassy was able to issue me an emergency visa to pick up the next day and I was able to get that to the travel agency handling the visa on Thursday, the day my existing visa expired.
After getting that squared away, Sovanntha, the regional agronomist buddy, and I headed to Prey Veng to install the solar pump on Thursday around noon. Below is a short clip of us crossing a bridge over the Mekong river.
We arrived at the farm to install the pump and then test it the following day.
Are you sick of videos of the sunflower pump yet??
There was some flooding on the way back.
We were afraid that the road would be close and we would have to take a several hour detour. Back at the hostel, I took a video of the lake and some stormy weather.
On the road back out to the farm the next day, I saw a little parade.
The installation of the pump went fairly well, though we are using a well as a water source and the farmer estimated that the water table is about 6 meters below the surface. This was surprising to me because I remember hearing that the farmer said the water table was “very near” the ground surface. The greater depth provided a bit difficult for the pump to manage and produce a continuous flow when it is cloudy. We will see how the system performs when I check up on it.
Lors Thmey was also conducting a training that day, so I got to see that as well.
Since we didn’t have time to go to Kandal to install the pump, we headed out on Sunday for the day. On the way out of Phnom Penh, we drove past a rally of the main opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party.
Sunday proved to be pretty disappointing since we never found a farm to install the pump, even though the branch manager was supposed to have round three possible locations. All were too far from the farmer’s house and so posed the risk of the solar pump being stolen. Sovanntha was also showing an Austrian fertilizer company a few of the trial farms that they had conducted to test this fertilizer. We spent more of the day dealing with the Austrians than with the solar pump, which was a bit annoying, but it just is what it is.
All in all it was a busy and productive week!