Thea and Phang are members of Agriculture Cooperative in Tipo Commune in Kampong Thom province. They are among the formerly landless and land-poor families who received land and livelihood support from the Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project II (LASED II). The project is supported by the World Bank and German International Cooperation (GIZ).
The project establishes agricultural cooperatives and provides technical assistance and grants to beneficiaries to consolidate and improve agriculture production systems, increase their livelihoods, and boost their food security and nutrition status. The project also supports market integration that promotes sustained incomes.
That Phalit, Deputy Program Manager of GIZ, said that to get private companies to sign farm contracts for organic products, GIZ helps the cooperatives get organically certified from the Control Union Certifications Production Standards and Regulation of the European Union and the U.S. National Organic Program.
Currently, four cooperatives under the LASED II project have signed farm contracts with two private companies—CACC and Signature of Asia. Signature of Asia buys organic sesame and peanuts from two cooperatives in Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu provinces, while CACC buys organic cassava from cooperatives in Kampong Thom and Kratie provinces.
A villager in Da commune, a LASED II project site in Kratie province, Khun Malis, 31, harvested more than eight tons of her organic cassava from her nearly one hectare of farm land. Through the agricultural cooperative, she can sell her yield at double the price she used to get from middlemen buyers.
She added that a guaranteed price and improved cassava productivity have attracted more families to join the cooperative. This year, number of members has increased from 25 families to 72 families and many more families will soon join.
The production of organic cassava for this year has not reached the target, even though more and more families are joining the cooperatives. What’s needed to boost output, according to Kann Kunthy, Managing Director of CCAC who signed the farm contracts with cooperatives under the LASED II project, is improved soil and seed and better coordination among cooperative members.
Dr. Dok Doma, Project Director of LASED II, is committed to supporting and strengthening the cooperatives in order to improve organic cassava productivity and encourage even more project beneficiaries to join the scheme. “Now we have put more efforts to help them increase their organic productivity by providing farming technics, including climate-smart agricultural practices, and providing revolving fund so they can use it to improve seed and soil.” he said.