COFE and FairTSA

Community Development

2013 - 2020

   Producers are at the heart of FairTSA Fair Trade certification. Together through community development projects and capacity building we are helping to directly impact the agricultural communities that grow and process our food. 

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   The Cambodian Organic Farm Enterprises (COFE) grows rice and organizes their community with The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC). CEDAC is a non profit NGO dedicated to improving the lives of Cambodiaʼs rural farmers. They run agricultural seminars, organize infrastructure development programs, and help advocate politically for rural populations. Since 2011 FairTSA has worked with CEDAC on such programs, collaborating with them in support of FairTSA Fair Trade certified rice farmers in the provinces of Kampong Speu, Takeo, and Kampong Chhnang, Cambodia. 

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Growing Rice with SRI 

   Rice farmers make up nearly 60 % of Cambodia’s population yet many live in poverty due to their small land holdings and low production efficiency. To confront these challenges CEDAC hosts agricultural workshops in the System of Rice Intensification ̶ a method of rice production that increases yields through low water-input, pesticide free seedling management. Since adopting this method, the rice farmers we work with have experienced an astounding increase in yearly net income, sometimes up to 8 times what they would normally make growing rice using traditional methods. With these funds, rural food producers achieve self-sufficiency and can afford health care, school costs, and independent business ventures. Moreover SRI is helps preserve producersʼ resources, using up to 40% less water and eliminating the need for dangerous and costly agrochemical inputs.

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   FairTSA began working with CEDAC in 2011, starting with 200 small holding farmers. Since then, around 1,200 farmers have joined the organic farmers association. This substantial increase is due to the benefits of organic, SRI rice cultivation as well as FairTSAʼs yearly development projects and Fair Price premium which guarantees a standard payment, regardless of market price fluctuations. 

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*The number for 2017 is an estimate. The numbers shown are based on the inspection documents and relate to certified operations. They may differ from CEDADCʼs internal documents, as these often refer to the number of people involved or impacted.

    Here, rice Producers in 2013 meet to discuss the annual Community Development Project, using communal decision-making processes to decide how to best leverage social premium funding. These meetings help promote gender equality and ensure that the Fair Trade premium funding is used most effectively. Once a proposal is chosen, we assess for feasibility then document project progression, working in tandem with a network of authorized inspectors and collaborating certifiers. 

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Overview of 2013-2017 

   Working in 3 different provinces in Cambodia constitutes a considerable difficulty for project planning just on a logistical level, not to mention the different needs of the specific communities. Under these extenuating circumstances CEDAC and the Cambodian Organic Rice Producer Organization (the actual producer organization that produces the rice, organized and supported by CEDAC) has done an extraordinary job at project planning and joint decision-making. Each year, rice producers from the three provinces meet and decide using inclusive, democratic decision making to decide how to best allocate social premiums funding (money supplied by the buyers of FairTSA licensed products). 

2013: Agricultural Education for Growers 

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Takeo Project: 

  • Investment in the community rice mill project 

  • Training sessions for facilitators/leaders 

  • Support and training activities for sustainable agricultural growth through learning organic agricultural practices and FairTSA compliance 

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Right: Modern sanitation facility built for rice producers in Kampong Chhnang. Such facilities help prevent disease and are key in improving producer quality of life. 

Kampong Speu Project:

Organic rice producer conference in Tramkak

​Kampong Chhnang Projects:

  • Organic rice producer conference, Samaki 

  • Meanchay District; Construction of well 

  • Construction of modern community toilet 

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Below: CEDAC founder Dr. Yang Said Koma leads workshop on organic rice business practices and cooperative rice mills. 

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2014: Seed Distribution & Leadership Training 

​ Takeo Projects:

  • Seed purification training for farmers 

  • Rice mill equipment; Supplying seed and organic fertilizer for neediest farmers 

  • Office supplies for farmers to support them in proper record-keeping 

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Kampong Speu Projects:

  • Three leadership and management skills training courses 

  • Investment in the rice mill 

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Kampong Chhnang Projects: 

  • Three training courses in organic agriculture  to improve agricultural practices and increase yield, 180 participants 

  • Community toilet with access for the farmer families 

Below: Training course in seed purification and selection in Takeo Province

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2015: Community Co-Op, Biodynamic Pond 

  Takeo Project:  Construction of meeting room and office at the central organic rice mill 

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Kampong Speu Project: Construction of community store 

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Kampong Chhnang Project:  Digging of community pond 

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Below: Community Store in Kampong Speu 

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2016: Community ponds, Learning Center 

Projects: 

  • Construction of two large community ponds in Kampong Chhnang for harvesting rain water and use as clean drinking water 

  • Construction of learning center in Chumpol, Takes Province

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Above: Learning/Community Center in Chumpol for use in agricultural workshops and community meetings. These types of educational spaces foster self-empowerment and confidence among rural food producers. They also allow these communities to better utilize existing resources, thus counteracting dependence on industrial and chemical agricultural methodologies

2017: Housing and Machinery 

 Projects:  

  • Purchase of forklift for central organic rice mill  

  • Installation of a water pump at the central community pond 

  • Construction of worker housing at the central organic rice mill cooperative

  The truth of the matter is that the purchasing power of these project dollars is at least 5 times or more than it would be in the US, with the exception of equipment purchases such as forklifts. Furthermore, CEDAC has been able to leverage the premiums received in an exemplary way, e.g. through training for improved agricultural practices and record-keeping, building of a community store where small farmers can sell their surplus goods, building of community and training centers, and the campaign to build an organic rice mill. Pictured is the central cooperative mill in Takeo Province built with help from FairTSA Fair Trade premium funds. 

2018: Rice Mill Investment, Pre-Cleaner 

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   The Cambodia organic rice producer Association organized two general meetings to make decision for their FairTSA Community Development plan at the central organic rice mill cooperative.  The first meeting had discussed on organic rice production, future investments in the Central organic mill cooperative, and the updates on the progress of CDP activities thus far. During the second meeting they presented on the investment of the rice mill, fixing the new organic paddy price for production in 2017-18, and preparing the new Community Development Plan for the year and years ahead. Here are their goals they stated: 

  • Reinforcing and expanding the support to farmers in organic agriculture to ensure that the maximal number of farmers can benefit from these initiatives 

  • Assisting the most potential farmers and young farmers to develop to commercial organic farm entrepreneurs 

  • Support the development of self-reliant villages with integration of SRI and the Rice Mill Cooperative.  

  • Building networks of self-reliant development villages 

  • Setting up community-based centers of action and learning in organic farming and the development of self-reliant communities. 

  • Buying pre-cleaner machine for using at central rice mill cooperative for 2018, in order to improve the quality and ease of processing.

2019: Rice Mill Investment, Paddy Rice Dryer 

   For 2019 it was decided to invest in installing a paddy rice dryer for using at central rice mill cooperative. This machinery contributes to their self-sufficiency and the value of the operation.  

2020: Village Ponds 

   For 2020, the FairTSA Community Development Project focused on water security. Two ponds were dug during May-June in places easily accessible for the farmers.