Phum Prech (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Hundreds of Cambodian rice farmers are switching to organic production, hoping to export to the health-conscious west as well as tap into rising domestic demand.
The German aid agency Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) is training 500 farmers which provides them with seeds and general training.
"I want to start organic farming, because being chemical-free it will not have an impact on my health and I will get a higher price for my crops", said Keo Yaon, attended a workshop on making natural fertiliser a Phum Prech, around 100 km south of Phnom Penh. Keo Yaon's initial investment will be in making a fertiliser of cow manure and plant compost. "It is a small investment and then I don't need to spend money on chemical fertilisers", she said.
GZT projects aim at responding to burgeoning demand for chemical and pesticide-free foods. More than 110 farmers from five villages in Battambang (300 km northwest of Phnom Penh) are going organic. The transition process from chemical farming takes at least three years to satisfy the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) criteria.
Farming is the main activity for 80 per cent of the population of a region known as the country’s rice greenery. The local Church has undertaken various social development initiatives, including women’s empowerment and a feeding programme for children.
The disputed land is located in the O'Sophy Kiri Prey Srong forest, which is protected by the United Nations. Lieutenant Van Limeng sued 13 families in O'Chab Trey village. Many soldiers stationed in a nearby military base now use the land illegally.