Back Up:Phnom Penh Day 7, Thursday

Innovation in Sustainable Dev | TA: 10/16, TB: 11/27

Let's go!

Day two in Cambodia will take us to a small village that is thinking big in the world of sustainable agriculture. CEDAC is known across the world for their dedication to follow the supply chain all the way from seed to marketplace, ensuring farmers are producing quality products and receiving fair compensation from exporters and consumers. Among other efforts, CEDAC focuses on socially responsible investment, has set up community-led co-op mills, runs fair trade shops, and creates youth programs for a new generation that is increasingly turning away from farming.

Please check out the pre-session materials below to make the most of your experience.

Meet for Breakfast: 6:00 am

Departure time: 7:15 am

Please Note:

Total estimated travel time: 4 hours

Estimated outdoor time: 4 hours

Average time between meals: 5 hours

Special Note on Dress:

Because we will be visiting a rural area in the afternoon, please be sure to wear conservative clothing (long pants or skirt and shoulders covered for women and no shorts for either gender).

Your Daily Checklist:

  1. Pen and Pencil
  2. Notebook
  3. Folder
  4. Supplementary handouts
  5. Room key
  6. Cash (drinks, snacks, souvenirs)
  7. Sunglasses and sunblock

Suggested Hashtags and Twitter Handles

Morning Session: #CEDAC, @cedacorg

Afternoon Session: #CEDAC, #SustainableAG, @cedacorg

and of course, #DSILcourse, @DSILcourse, @sarusprogram, #Cambodia are always encouraged.

The Field Itinerary

Activities at a Glance

6:00 am - Breakfast

7:15 am - Meet in lobby to travel to CEDAC office

8:00 am - CEDAC Organizational presentation and workshop at CEDAC office

10:00 am - Brunch

10:30 am - Travel to village

1:00 pm - Immersion in local community

4:00 pm - Dinner with a village family

5:00 pm - Conversation with community members

6:45pm - Leave village to return to hotel in Phnom Penh

Morning Session: CEDAC Speed Intro Course

Thursday, Oct. 16th 2014 at 8-10am

No. 91-93, St B (2011), Kraing Angkrong Village, Sangkat Kraing Thnong Khan Posenchey, Phnom Penh (Borey Piphupthmey Boeng Chhouk)

Here are some themes we will explore during the session:
  • ​Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) and socially responsible consuming;
  • ​Helping farmers receive the full financial benefit from farming to production to international export specifically in the organic sector (linking farmers to the markets);
  • ​How the new project of CEDAC Community Rice-Mill Co-op is working currently - challenges CEDAC is facing, and how is started;
  • ​How to successfully incorporate youth in this process since farming is in high demand in the country and losing more farmers every day;
  • The technology being used in rice farming as well as fertilizer technology to increase production and reduce environmental impact.

Morning Session: Getting Ready!

Pre-Session Reading:

Suggested Videos (see below):

TED - Cary Fowler, One seed at at a time, protecting the future of food

Morning Speaker: Meet Dr. Koma from CEDAC

As Cambodia emerges from the shadows of a destructive dictatorship, building an empowered citizenry is vital to its future as a progressive and democratic society. Food security, market access, and asset creation are basic concerns in this process of empowerment. In a country where 80 percent of the population is in the rural areas and 66 percent depends on rice farming, it is in the rice farming communities where the most important changes must take place.

Agronomist Yang Saing Koma is at the center of these changes. The son of a teacher-farmer in Takeo province, Cambodia, Koma was old enough to experience the terrible dislocations under the Khmer Rouge regime when his family was forced to leave their province for Phnom Penh. He was fortunate, however, after the regime’s fall, to go on scholarship to Germany where he specialized in agriculture and earned a doctorate at the University of Leipzig in 1995. Returning to Cambodia, he worked for foreign development organizations but knew that he had to find a way to be free to pursue his own priorities; he firmly believed that “Cambodians need to take responsibility for their own destiny.”

Championing sustainable agriculture, Koma founded in 1997 the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) with a team of seven and the help of a French non-government organization. Its early years were difficult as Koma struggled to make CEDAC an independent, self-sustaining organization, but his single-minded determination paid off. Today, fifteen years later, CEDAC has become the largest agricultural and rural development NGO in Cambodia.

The linchpin of CEDAC’s success was its introduction of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an ecologically sustainable approach to rice production. SRI is based on a simple system of plant, water, and soil management, and is suitable to Cambodia’s dominant pattern of smallholder farms. Koma introduced SRI in 2000 to twenty-eight reluctant farmers; since then, he has painstakingly promoted SRI so that it gradually spread to more than 100,000 rice farmers, registering a 61 percent increase in rice yields, even as it decreased the amount of seeds and chemical fertilizers used while increasing the use of organic fertilizers by 85 percent. In 2005, the Cambodian government officially endorsed SRI as a rice production strategy. Today, CEDAC is supporting 140,000 farmer families in twenty-one provinces. Between 2002 and 2010, Cambodia’s rice production rose from 3.82 million tons to 7.97 million tons, and CEDAC’s work has been credited as the major factor in this increase.

Recognizing the need for rice farmers to share knowledge among themselves, CEDAC established in 2003 the Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), an independent network of 1,402 farmer associations with around 40,000 members in all. Calling this a “mind net,” Koma organized FNN to promote sustainable agricultural practices, women engagement in agriculture, and marketing and savings cooperatives. Today, the associations under the FNN have been able to mobilize savings of more than US$8 million, with an average monthly increase of five percent.

In 2008, Koma initiated CEDAC Enterprise for Development (CESDE), subsequently renamed Sahakreas CEDAC (SKC), a social enterprise that addresses predatory market conditions by linking farmers directly to the market. By selling only organic products, Koma explains, “SKC also links the responsible farmer to the responsible consumer.” To date, CESDE runs a chain of thirteen shops that sell only locally produced, organic agricultural products. It is supporting over 5,000 farmers in eight provinces and has already begun to export organic rice.

All this has been accomplished through a “bottom-up” approach that does not impose a pre-set formula but allows farmers to discover by themselves a better way of doing things. “The challenge,” Koma says, “lies in building people. We have to believe in ourselves, we have to believe in our ideas.” Asked what this means for Cambodia, he says: “Everything is interrelated. A simple thing can have a lot of influence in the system. If more people grow, society will grow.”

In electing Yang Saing Koma to receive the 2002 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his creative fusion of practical science and collective will, that has inspired and enabled vast numbers of farmers in Cambodia to become more empowered and productive contributors to their country’s economic growth.

Afternoon Session: Village Visit with Mrs. Sovannary

Thursday, Oct. 16th 2014 at 1-6pm

CEDAC Village

We'll be visiting a CEDAC village in the afternoon. The schedule for the afternoon is as follows:

1:00 pm - Village walk followed by meeting with women farmer group representatives, then experience how farmers grow crops in their home gardens.

4:00 pm - Early dinner with local family and documentary on “farmers and agroecology”

5:00 pm - Conversation with local farmers

6:00 pm - Leave Village

Afternoon Speaker: Meet Ms. Sovannary

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Optional Activities

  • Check out the Riverside
  • Go for drinks on Golden Street (278), a popular expat hangout