Berkshire charity boosts local agriculture project in rural Cambodia by encouraging use of IT to advance agriculture.

Press Release

To Grow An Orchid (reg charity 1187888)
Contact: Dave Hunt
Phone: 07710 351766 / 07717 003343

For Immediate Release 

Pangbourne, Berkshire 23 Oct 2023: Charity encourages and funds collaboration of educational project between IT and Agronomy (Crop Science) to benefit the local community by improving productivity for farmers.

Kampong Speu Province, Cambodia, a very rural area 100km west of the capital Phnom Penh. Here agriculture is integral to people’s daily lives, and includes rice cultivation, green vegetables, cashew production and occasionally mushrooms. 

One of the most in demand crops is the oyster mushroom, sold in local markets and soup shops. It is valuable as unlike other crops which are harvested once or twice a year – mushrooms can be produced year-round, giving famers much needed regular income. However, the climate in this Province is challenging. It has hot, windy and ever-changing weather conditions. Managing and maintaining crops is extremely difficult.

Kampong Speu Institute of Technology

Kampong Speu Institute of Technology (KSIT), a public institution under the guidance of Dr Hong Kimcheang provides degree and associate degree courses in agriculture and technology, both of which are popular courses.

Presently, the students at the institute learn to cultivate oyster mushrooms by manually watering them using sprinkler spray systems.  Optimal growth and maximum productivity requires very specific conditions of temperature and humidity.

To Grow An Orchid funds IT and Agronomy project

The project, funded by Pangbourne based charity, To Grow An Orchid, enables the IT and Agronomy Faculties to collaborate on the implementation of a temperature and humidity control system, to provide optimum conditions for growing mushrooms and therefore increase yield and accelerate production. 

The IT students will build the control systems, teaching them the benefits of programming and how it can be applied in industry. Once the research by the Agronomy Dept is completed the project results can be taken to and applied in the local community to enable them to improve their lives. 

Later in the project the specialist IT skills of To Grow An Orchid will help with Cloud Technology for use in managing the results data because power and internet outages occur regularly here.

KSIT is also running a basic IT course (First Steps to a Digital Economy) written and funded by the charity, to educate all their students on using Google and the dangers of internet and social media.

The Mushroom project started in the end of September 2023 and is expected to run for 10 months. 

If successful Dr Kimcheang and Dave Hunt (founder of TGAO) will target another collaborative project in the 2024. 

About To Grow An Orchid

Founded in 2019 by local entrepreneur Dave Hunt to help young people in rural Cambodia to finish school and to raise some levels of IT education.
In rural areas the majority of the population are farmers with incomes around £120 a month. Poorer families struggle to send their children to school. TGAO funds the poorest students to help them complete their education to Grade 12.
In IT the basics of Internet and the impact of social media incl. fraud, private information and passwords are not taught. TGAO has written and funded courses for schools to give to their students under the name of ITClub-Cambodia

About Dave Hunt

Local entrepreneur founded IT company C2C in Henley-on-Thames in the 1990’s. They were originally based in premises in Hart Street, Henley before moving to Caversham. Company had offices Reading (UK) and Boston (US). The company was sold to an American IT company in 2015.
Hunt lived in Shiplake and other Henley-on-Thames villages for 30 years with his wife Sally. They moved to Buckhold, Pangbourne in 2010.
He started visiting Cambodia in 2016 and registered the charity three years later. For further information on the charity see TGAO.

Alternative contact: James Meston 07717 003343

IT and Agronomy mushroom project at KCIT funded by To Grow An Orchid
Dr Hong Kimcheang, Director Kampong Speu Institute of Technology
Dave Hunt, founder To Grow an Orchid
IT and Agronomy project - computer board