Cambodia’s freshwater fisheries are among the most productive in the world as they are located around the Great Lake and along both the Tonle Sap and Mekong Rivers. Fish has become a major part of the Cambodian diet, accounting for 61% of households’ protein intake, and is the second most consumed food.
Acknowledging the importance of the agri-fishery sector in the country, the European Union funded SWITCH-Asia SWITCH to Solar project, is being implemented across the Tonle Sap Region of Cambodia to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to adopt solar-based technologies with the purpose of promoting clean energy and fostering green employment in the agri-fishery sector. Implemented by People in Need, EnergyLab and Sevea, and co-funded by the Czech Republic Development Agency (CzDA), SWITCH to Solar also aims to support local farmers by educating them on the benefits of using solar-powered technologies that can make their products more sustainable and of higher quality standards.
One of the main activities spearheaded by this project is the implementation of the SWITCH to Solar Start-up programme, one with the aim to support the development of businesses for the agri-fishery market, using solar energy technology with the potential to promote sustainable economic growth in Cambodia. The goal of the programme is to support entrepreneurs to successfully conceive, validate, and launch their solar energy businesses through a well-structured process that includes Hackathons, a 6-week pre- incubation, a 1-year incubation, and a 6-months acceleration. The various stages of the process consist of different activities such as mentoring, market linkages and networking, financial support, and training, among others.
Harvest the Sun (HTS), a Khmer company established in 2021, is one of the 6 start-ups that have joined the SWITCH to Solar Program in 2022. Through this initiative, HTS was able to develop and test innovative Solar Dryer Domes (SDD), a more sustainable technique for drying fresh products and generate revenue.
Main benefits of using Solar Dryer Domes technologies include:
- Increased Production: SDDs decrease the drying time, allowing for an increase in the number of production cycles.
- Increased Consumer Safety: Production under a fully controlled environment (temperature, humidity, hygiene) contributes to the improvement of consumer safety.
- Optimization of the work force: By eliminating the constant moving of fish to accommodate the weather and daylight, staff have additional time to devote to higher- value tasks.
- CO2 Emission reductions: avoided CO2 emissions: 1.75 tCO2/year.
- Return on investment: between 6 and 19 months depending on the dried fish.
The support provided to the start-ups is essential to sustain our business and be able to scale up. Running a start-up consists of multiple levels of preparation and work. Without a proper plan, your team will end up wasting time. That is why strategic planning is essential. Financial planning is just as important as the human body, it has to be nurtured. If it gets infected, it will take time to recover. So, good financing is the way forward to keep a healthy company running. Lastly, effective decision making is also very important when running a business, explained Ms. IM Soukhim, co-founder of Harvest the Sun.
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Photo credit: People in Need Cambodia