Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 823–840 | Cite as

Land poverty and emerging ruralities in Cambodia: insights from Kampot province

  • Arnim Scheidel
  • Katharine N. Farrell
  • Jesús Ramos-Martin
  • Mario Giampietro
  • Kozo Mayumi


Rural change in Cambodia manifests itself in rapidly declining land availability for the smallholder sector, posing the question of how farmers may be able to deal with limited access to land. In this paper, we discuss with a case study village and household livelihood strategies of smallholders currently operating under land-constrained conditions. Based on an integrated assessment of a smallholder village in Kampot province, we illustrate in quantitative terms how land shortage is creating problems of surplus generation and liquidity issues in monetary and non-monetary flows. At the household level, livelihood diversification based on the involvement of productive resources other than land may play an increasing role, particularly in the future, when levels of land shortage may increase. At the village level, smallholder may respond through institutional innovation, in particular through the establishment of a community banking system and a paddy rice bank to provide money and rice credits to overcome transitory shortages and to cover investment costs for additional productive resources. Thus, in this case, we observe the emergence of new patterns of livelihood in rural areas, based on the integration of non-land-based economic activities and new institutional settings.


Cambodia Smallholder agriculture Land poverty Livelihood strategies Emerging ruralities Societal metabolism 



This research was funded by (1) research grants (FI-DGR 2010 and BE-DGR 2011) from the Catalan Government, Spain; (2) the Consolidated Research Group ‘Economic Institutions, Quality of Life and Environment’ SGRZ009-00962; and (3) the Spanish Ministry for Science and Innovation Project HAR-2010-20684-C02-01; and (4) the EU-Project MARSS (LIFE11ENV/DE/343). The authors particularly thank the villagers of Kcheay Kchang Lech for their hospitality during field research and for their cooperation with the research activities. Further thanks go to the Mekong Institute for Cooperation and Development in the Greater Mekong Subregion for providing institutional support; CEDAC for institutional support, contacts and feedback on the survey design; and Bunchhorn Lim, Duk Piseth and Kimchhin Sok from the Royal University of Agriculture, Phnom Penh, for assistance as researchers and friends during the first author’s stay in Cambodia. The constructive comments of two anonymous reviewers are thankfully acknowledged. The paper was largely written at Tokushima University, Japan.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnim Scheidel
    • 1
  • Katharine N. Farrell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jesús Ramos-Martin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mario Giampietro
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kozo Mayumi
    • 5
  1. 1.Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Division of Resource Economics, Department of Agricultural EconomicsHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Departament d’Economia i d’Història EconómicaUniversitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)BellaterraSpain
  4. 4.ICREA CataloniaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Faculty of Integrated Arts and SciencesUniversity of TokushimaTokushimaJapan

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