CEDAC and GIZ Support Farmers Ahead of Harvest Season at 3rd Annual Assembly

CEDAC and GIZ recognize that farmers pursuing organic certification require continual support and guidance. The goal of the 3rd Annual General Assembly of the Cambodian Organic Rice Producer Confederation was to facilitate knowledge exchange about this year’s production and plan ahead for the upcoming harvest. Held on 11th -12th November, 2013 at the Cambodian-Korean Cooperation Centre (CKCC) in Phnom Penh, over 30 farmer leaders from 7 provinces participated. The event featured presentations and trainings by GIZ technical advisors Mr. Channa Samorn and Mr. Claudius Bredehoeft, and aslo CEDAC senior staff Mr. Makarady Keam and Dr. Yang Saing Koma.

On the first day of the training, farmer leaders from each district reported on the situation in their communities, current market conditions and challenges affecting organic methods. Presenters remarked that this year’s flooding did not have a significant impact on their production, although fungus and difficulty drying paddy were reported. The GIZ team then discussed the Internal Control System (ICS) for international organic and FairTSA certification and post-harvest management techniques. Mr. Bredehoeft spoke about increasing the number of ICS-certified farmers in the context of CEDAC’s new Rice Mill Cooperative (RMC) initiative, saying “Look what you have accomplished in the last two years! But remember: soon you will not only be farmers, but also traders and processors.” Participants were then invited to brainstorm ways that CEDAC/GIZ could better support farmers to follow ICS guidelines. Some ideas included better training for inspectors and more communication from CEDAC to producer groups.

The second day featured opening remarks by Dr. Yang Saing Koma, who discussed the benefits of incorporating the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) with organic methods and cooperative rice mills. In this way, communities have access to safe food, a better environment, improved soil fertility, reduced transportation costs, better prices and more local job opportunities. Together with Mr. Makarady, they announced the price for ICS and domestic organic paddy, which is at least 10% higher than local market rates. They also announced the schedule for paddy procurement. Before this year’s harvest, farmers will receive additional training on post-harvest management and will undergo a 2nd internal inspection. Total production and exports are expected to at least double this season compared with the 2012/13 season.