Linguistic Differences Lead to a Lesson Learned

We planted a potato or what seems to be a type of yam with vines.  How did it fail?  I made the quasi-narcissistic mistake of thinking I knew something when I actually didn’t. I cut the vines thinking it would increase root production.  Oh boy was I wrong!  Later I was told by the Khmer that these types of potatoes are typically grown by trellising and the vines are allowed to fruit.  Then, the fruit is picked.  It dawned on me … pick the fruit, then, root production will increase!  Nevertheless, one [tower] survived which was the one where no vines were cut.

An interesting lesson worth sharing… something may have been lost in translation.  Any tuber grown underground is referred to as a potato in Khmer: “Dum-long.”  There is no distinction between a yam and a potato.  If I clearly knew this was a yam prior to planting then I would have likely said no when one of the teens asked me to plant this type.

Brian R., Cambodia Sustainable Agriculture Fellow


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