Cambodia’s First Female Drone Pilot to Uplift Smallholder Farming

In Cambodia, agriculture plays a leading role in the economy, with over 34% of its population employed in this sector. For all the crops produced, rice is the principal staple food to feed the Cambodian and makes up around half of the GDP.

However, water shortage and rising labour cost have posed challenges to this growth engine. As farmers struggle to grow rice against all odds, agricultural innovations are gradually on the rise in Cambodia, which aspires to attain higher middle-income country by 2030.

From A Traditional Farmer To Woman Entrepreneur

Tou Kousal is the first female drone pilot to introduce drone spraying solutions in Battambang province, known as the «rice bowl» of Cambodia. As a pioneering woman entrepreneur in agriculture, she not only obtains a decent income as expected, but has also been helping local farmers boost crop yields and reduce their input cost of agrochemical, water, and labour.

Since the business started, she now owns two crop protection service teams with 7 pilots in total, which have served hundreds of farming households and covered 900ha farmlands with XAG’s spray drones.

Two years ago, before piloting the farming drone business, Tou Kousal was still a farmer operating a 10-hectare field with limited access to new tools. She also ran a family agrochemical store with her husband. What advanced her decision to throw herself in the whole new realm was the Covid-19 pandemic.

In October 2020, when the pandemic attacked Cambodia, she bought the first XAG agricultural drone and offered crop spraying service to farmers, who were faced with a lack of labour and material supplies. She started to see the values of drone in reducing resources and not affecting the health of workers.

«The outbreak had posed pressure in both the economy and labour market, and we had to find a way to yield more with less. When I found out XAG agricultural drones can be such a solution, I was determined to start the new agri-journey,» said Tou Kousal.