Heifer International Cambodia and Khmer Organic Cooperative last Friday signed a collaboration agreement that will give 35,000 smallholder farmers in 64 agricultural communities greater market access and boost the price of their products.
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The smallholder farmers concerned are producers of chemical-free vegetables, or raise pigs and chickens.
Heifer said its aim is to help small-scale farmers develop strong organisational skills and increase their incomes. The partnership will also enhance food security, close the demand-supply gap for pork and chicken, and help farmers adopt environmentally friendly techniques to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Heifer’s country director Keo Keang, said, “Our collaboration with Khmer Organic Cooperative will guarantee a market for the farmers and the communities, thus alleviating some of the issues they faced in previous years accessing the market.
“Though we are working with 64 agricultural communities across the country, only 17 of them are supplying chemical-free vegetables and livestock to the market. Therefore, the memorandum of understanding will link the 64 agricultural communities across the country with Khmer Organic Cooperative.
“Cooperating with a private company is the right choice – we hope that with this partnership we will be able to help more communities.
“Khmer Organic will not be the only one we are working with. We will work with other private companies as well,” Ms Keang said, adding that the project will kick off this year.
Under the partnership, products from the farmers will be collected by Heifer and sold to Khmer Organic Cooperative and other organic shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Thlang Sovann Pisey, executive director of Khmer Organic Cooperative, said their aim is to promote good agricultural practices (GAP) in the country and to train farmers on this set of agricultural methods.
“We will assist the farmers and give them the training they need to follow the GAP standards. Once they are able to comply with these standards, the next step will be to supply Heifer to reach a bigger market,” Ms Pisey said.
Khmer Organic Cooperative now works with more than 20 smallholder farmers in Prey Veng province, who supply them organic vegetables.
“With Heifer’s collaboration, we hope to work with another 17 agricultural communities to begin with. We will reach 64 agricultural communities in the near future,” Ms Pisey added.
Ms Keang said now less than 10 percent of vegetables in the market are organic, adding that she hopes that by 2023 at least 50 percent of all produce will be chemical-free.
Ouk Savin, deputy director-general of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, welcomed the partnership.
She said it is in line with the government’s goal to engage sellers, buyers, and famers in agriculture schemes.
“We must build farmers’ skills so that they can produce quality vegetables and meat. We want every party involved in the production and distribution of agricultural products to work hard so that we can enjoy safe vegetables,” Ms Savin said.