Kampong Chhnang – Cambodia – June 2019
“Joint investment with cooperative is better than sole investment because we have the chairperson, treasury, committee in charge of each area, we have members and we can know the information from the outside markets so the middlemen cannot price down our paddy”, said Ms. Chim Soky, community committee in charge of training and member of the organic rice production.

Kraing Leav Commune, Rolea Pa’ear District, Kampong Chhnang is to the west of Phnom Penh at about 120 km away and had farmer bitter history under the French Colonial in 1925 during the uprising of the residents to kill Resident Badez due to the oppression and inability to pay tax on paddy fields. Nowadays, residents of Kraing Leav District depend mainly on paddy rice farming for their living and in doing so, the farming practices vary from one family to another. Some families can have enough yields for their consumption, while some others lack supplies six months due to their sole dependence on rain.

On 15 September 2012, Kraing Leav Agricultural Cooperative was created and registered officially by Kampong Chhnang Agricultural Department with 97 members of whom 61 were females and with total capital 10 million riel with a par value of 20,000 riel per share. The initial objective is to (1) help provide loan to farmers in their farming with a joint share investment (1 share = 20,000 riel) (2) produce organic paddy for domestic supplies and overseas export. Through Kraing Leav Agricultural Committee, cooperative members received many trainings on agricultural techniques, epically on the production of organic paddy from a number of organizations including FNN and Neang Kangrei Organization via PIN and Kampong Chhnang Agricultural Department. Mr. Mao Sarim, Chairperson of the Cooperative Board said, “To achieve organic paddy production target, Kraing Leav Agricultural Committee establish production groups and farmers form into hundreds of family members, but we select only 40
volunteer families to produce this organic paddy for the community who provide them with good and pure quality paddy seedlings and then buy back the paddy yield from them.” As of June 2019, the members of the Kraing Leav Agricultural Cooperative increase to 232 of whom 81 are female with total of 847 shares at 38,800,000 riel (thirty eight million eight hundred thousand riel). Ms. Chim Soky, a organic paddy production member, said, “Before I joined the cooperative, I also did organic paddy farming but it didn’t provide much yield. From the two hectares of land, it yielded only 4 tons, but now it increases to 6 tons. I could sell the paddy to
the cooperative at higher prices than that offered by middlemen; organic paddy (1kg wet paddy is 250 riel and 1kg dry paddy is 1,500 riel, while 1kg inorganic paddy (wet paddy) is 1,200 riel. When the community buy paddy from me and sell it for profits, those profits also have my dividend.”

To increase employment in the cooperative to help the members, the community committee installed a rice milling machine worth USD20,000 with the loan from Rural Development bank with the aim or supplying organic rice to a number of supermarkets in Phnom and for sales in the community as well as in the province. Ms. Khim Sokunthea, treasury in the cooperative said, “If we sell paddy only, it’s one source if income but when we have rice milling machine, we can have the rice bran, ride residuals, paddy husk that we can sell for 5,000,000 riel to 6,000,000. Besides selling white and red Phka Rumduol Angkor rice, Kraing Leav Agricultural Cooperative also sell wet paddy to Amru Rice Cambodia Co., Ltd, a rice processing company for exporting at around 23 tons per year and thus quantity is well below the purchase order. Therefore the cooperative is enhancing the quality and organic paddy productivity to supply as much as 50 tons per year at to meet the demand of that rice exporting company. Mr. Mao Sarim, chairperson of the cooperative board explained, “Prior to placing the purchase order from Amru Rice Cambodia Co., Ltd, the company will do site visit at the rice field and bring the paddy for laboratory test to ensure that the paddy are produced organically. Thus the cooperative though its committee check the technical specification of each member. Amid this success, Kraing Leav Agricultural Cooperative also face some challenges such as the lack of paddy dryer while the community depend on natural dryer and sometimes they experience loss due to no sunshine for drying their paddy resulting in spoiled paddy to certain extent. Nevertheless, the community committee has made effort to mill those spoiled paddy and sell in cheaper price and supply to animal feed processing companies to ensure minimal loss. Kraing Leav Agricultural Cooperative is an outstanding cooperative in Kampong Chhnang in terms of organic paddy and rice production. Paddy and rice market is not the constraint for the cooperative and most importantly the cooperative is planning to expand cultivating land and production members in order to ensure sufficient supplies at the demands of communes.

By Farmer and Nature Net Association, 2019