CEDAC Feature: Fair Trade Benefits Communities

In addition to its network of farmers inside Cambodia, CEDAC is active internationally through NGO networks and organic rice customers like US-based Lotus Foods. Lotus Foods is a unique brand of sustainable, premium rice sold in the US, sourced from across Asia. CEDAC, through its commercial partner Sahakreas CEDAC, has sold certified Organic and Fair Trade to Lotus Foods since 2009. Last month, CEDAC was featured in the company’s newsletter regarding the Fair Trade premium that our farmers receive for their rice. Check out the article below, and subscribe to the Rice Scoop on Lotus Foods website:

October is Fair Trade Month. Although the many different certification programs and logos can be bewildering, we all know that Fair Trade is good. It means farmers aren’t exploited and get a higher than market price for their product. Not so well known is that many Fair Trade programs also have a broader social goal. With every purchase by a consumer, social premium funds are generated and flow back to the producer communities for use in community development.
In Cambodia, we work with BCS on Organic certification, which partners with FairTSA on Fair Trade certification. Since we purchase our Mekong Flower™ jasmine rice through CEDAC, the NGO that trains the farmers on SRI and organic methods and organizes them in organic producer cooperatives, CEDAC is called our “Key Development Partner (KDP).” As stipulated by FairTSA, the KDP must be committed to supporting the small farmer suppliers’ social and economic progress, and its role is scrutinized as much as the cooperatives for participatory practices, accountability and transparency in FairTSA’s traceability from source to consumer.
This past July, CEDAC organized a two-day Organic Rice Producer Confederation Assembly of Cambodia. Mr. Claudius Bredehoeft and Mr. Channa Samorn, advisors from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) working with CEDAC, showed farmers how the “Organic Rice Business Value Chain” functions (see photo above left). They outlined CEDAC’s responsibility to train farmers and operate the internal control system (ICS). They also described how BCS and FairTSA certify not only producers, but everyone in the whole chain including CEDAC and CEDAC’s partners in the US (i.e. Lotus Foods). This point was illustrated by a graph showing the role of every actor along the production chain. The importance of farm records was highlighted, such as farm diaries, mapping, the ICS handbook and the ICS contract ”this is how trust in organic FairTSA rice is created.”
Says Mr. Bredehoeft, “I showed the three logos applied to certified rice: organic for the US market; organic for the European market; and FairTSA. I explained that customers in the US go to the supermarket and find many options for rice. The labels show that small-scale farmers grew the rice, and buying it supports a higher price for farmer community development. “
This is the first year that farmer groups will receive the social premium. CEDAC’s Mr. Savorn reported on this year’s organic rice collection and sales process, and outlined the amounts available to each community from the social development fund. The total amount was 6,665 US dollars. Participants then divided into groups to form plans for the social development fund. The plans must be approved by FairTSA and show how the social premium will further the social and economic development of its members and/or workers and the surrounding community, such as investment in drinking wells, toilets, irrigation canals, small mills, etc. The decision-making process for the projects has to include community input and consensus.