Date: 29 MAY 2012
Source: PAN Asia and the Pacific
Keywords: ORA Cambodia, Agriculture, CEDAC, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, farmer workshops
ORA Cambodia took off with a workshop on 24 & 25 May 2012 in Phnom Penh entitled “Organic Rice Farming for Sustainable Livelihoods”. Local organic rice farmers pledged to produce 10 tons per hectare as part of the new 10-year “Best Rice Field” project launched by CEDAC, organiser of CORA Cambodia with Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP).
“Our work over the last 14 years has shown that small biodiverse family farms are viable and sustainable. Not only is this the way to reclaim our rice and biodiversity, it is also the way for rice farmers to earn good livelihoods. The aim of this project is to do exactly that. It is time for rice farmers to get the respect they deserve for their hard work in feeding the nation,” said Dr. Yang Saing Koma, President of CEDAC.
Mr. Nhep Srorn, Director of the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Takeo Province, officiated the event attended by 75 farmers, NGOs, consumers and journalists. The event was extensively covered by various radio and TV media agencies. Mr. Srorn supported the CEDAC project saying, “This is in line with Cambodia’s goal of producing 1 million tons of rice per year for export by 2015.” The workshop saw about 50 rice farmers from seven provinces showcasing their success in doubling and even tripling their rice yields using ecological SRI (System of Rice Intensification) methods learnt from CEDAC’s capacity building programmes. “Before we learnt about organic SRI, we could not produce enough rice even for our own home consumption, but after we were trained in this, we have enough rice for our family and our livestock and even excess to sell. We can also grow other food like beans and vegetables and raise chickens, pigs and frogs to eat and sell,” shared several farmers. CEDAC farmers are a shining example of how small biodiversity-based ecological farms can feed the world without destroying farmers’ livelihoods and the environment like the toxic corporate model of agri-business has done. They are true practitioners of agri-Culture which is life-giving not life-destroying. Your brothers and sisters all over Asia salute you,” said Clare Westwood (Coordinator of PAN AP’s Save Our Rice Campaign) to the farmers at the workshop. PAN AP is coordinating CORA with network partners in 14 countries in Asia.
“We are happy to be part of CORA to be in solidarity with the rest of Asia as it promotes the food sovereignty of small rice farmers and supports them in saving their rice seeds and rice lands,” said Mr. Keam Makarady, CEDAC’s Program Director of Health and Environment in closing the workshop. He also spoke on CORA and CEDAC’s livelihood project at a one-hour radio talk show on 27 May.