Research Articles

Investing in a no-till planter in Cambodia: A promising opportunity for certain categories of service providers

Pierre-Antoine Vernet1, Nicolas Faysse2, Vuthy Suos3, Nanntha Oung4, Sovanda Son3, Vira Leng3, Dyna Theng5, Timothy Rendall6, Lytour Lor5, Manny Reyes7, Saruth Chan8, Rajiv Pradhan9, Seng Vang3, Florent Tivet1,3*

1CIRAD, AIDA Research Unit, Montpellier University, F-34398 Montpellier, France; 2 CIRAD, G-Eau Research Unit, Montpellier University, F-34398 Montpellier, France; 3 General Directorate of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management and Conservation Agriculture Service Center, Cambodia; 4 Agronomes et Vétérinaires sans Frontières, Cambodia; 5 Royal University of Agriculture, Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, Cambodia; 6 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Appropriate-Scale Mechanization Consortium; 7 Kansas State University, The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification; 8 Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia; 9 Swisscontact, Cambodia.

*Corresponding author:


The use of no-till planters is a promising component of the transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices in Cambodia. One way to facilitate their large-scale use would be to involve the service providers who are hired by smallholder farmers to do most of their mechanised field operations. This study assessed the conditions under which it would be profitable for service providers to invest in no-till planters and sell services based on their use. The mode of operation and the income earned from the custom-hire business of 35 service providers in Battambang Province (Northwest Cambodia) were assessed. The profitability of no-till maize, rice and cassava planters was then analysed based on assumptions concerning costs, service fees and farmer demand, which were then discussed with service providers in workshops. Under these assumptions, for each crop, investing in a no-till planter was found to be profitable for only some of the service providers interviewed. The fact the service providers had different profiles led to varying interest in and capacity to purchase and operate a no-till planter. Some already provide services to relatively large areas and may thus be able to purchase the equipment with no policy support. Other providers underuse their own tractors. They will likely have difficulty investing in the equipment without policy support, but may be more motivated to propose a new service to make a fuller use of their tractor. Support actions to boost the supply of no-till planters in Cambodia should therefore take the diversity of service providers into account.

Keywords: Conservation agriculture, custom-hire business, economic model, ex ante analysis, no-till planter.