Cambodia's agricultural market consistently presents challenges, as farmers grapple annually with the difficulty of selling their produce at fair prices. Navigating product marketing proves to be a complex task, but efforts are being made to gradually improve and streamline the agricultural market chain.
Keo Sovannary, an enterprising 43-year-old woman with years of experience in agriculture and animal husbandry, has turned her focus to business development. She is working towards establishing a market for local and processed agricultural products.
Kaksephal Rikreay, Sovannary’s ‘happy agricultural business’, was founded in April 2021. It aims to assist local entrepreneurs in the sale and marketing of their products, particularly amidst the challenges presented by Covid-19.
Sovannary spoke of the moment that catalysed her decision. She said during her visit to a community in Pursat province, she noted the debilitating impact of Covid-19: markets were shuttered and entire community farms cordoned off.
“That’s when it struck me,” she said. “I realised I could aid in selling their produce and thus, provide partial relief. I now collaborate with these communities, promoting their produce on social media to the best of my ability.”
Currently, Kaksephal Rikreay partners with farmers across Siem Reap, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang, and Takeo provinces, among others. The two-year-old firm promotes about 60 products, largely vegetables, fruits and agro-processed foods, primarily sourced from small women-led enterprises.
“We are dedicated to helping and promoting community products or start-ups that are new to the market. Once they establish a network and become known, they can start marketing independently. Then, we shift our attention to newer products just entering the market,” Sovannary said.
Despite generating revenues between $2,000 and $3,500, Sovannary disclosed that Kaksephal Rikreay has not been profitable since its inception due to the offsetting of costs, including the losses due to damaged vegetables.
Since last year, Sovannary began presenting Kaksephal Rikreay at major exhibitions such as the SEA Games, Para Games, and Siem Reap Songkran. The goal is to source markets and generates additional ones for local products, thereby stimulating the local economy.
Sovannary said the future plans for Kaksephal Rikreay is to open a showroom, possibly this year. But her long-term vision is to evolve the company into an agricultural community that gathers and promotes as many of the Kingdom’s vegetables, fruits and agricultural crops as possible.