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Farming co-ops reap benefit

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Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said on September 29 that from 2003 to 2021, a total of 1,200 farming co-ops had been established to support and assist the Cambodian agricultural sector. FACEBOOK

Farming co-ops reap benefit

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said 1,200 cooperative farming associations had been established and were contributing to the improvement in the livelihoods of farmers by helping them succeed in both the production and the business aspects of farming once their produce is ready to be brought to market.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said on September 29 that from 2003 to 2021, a total of 1,200 farming co-ops had been established to support and assist the Cambodian agricultural sector.

He said the farmer’s co-ops are made up of more than 140,000 farmers from 130,000 families. The farmers organised themselves into co-ops and then formalised the arrangements by registering with their provincial agriculture departments, whose records indicated that these co-ops all together had $24.8 million for initial capitalisation.

“Currently, these farming co-ops have been playing an important role in actively contributing to the implementation of agricultural development policies and plans.

“They have embraced the government’s policies on boosting rice production and increasing rice exports, horticultural production, productivity enhancement, agricultural diversification and agricultural trade –all with the primary objectives of ensuring food security, supporting their families and driving the development of the rural economy,” he said.

He said the ministry would continue to support and encourage farming co-ops throughout the country because they can provide farmers with benefits like shared resources and knowledge, mutual support, efficiencies of scale and improved leverage in business negotiations.

Chea Saing Dona, director of the ministry’s community development department, told The Post on September 29 that the increase in the number of these farming co-ops was due to the fact that when the farmers came together to form these organisations, they found that it brought many benefits and was a stabilising force in the domestic market for their crops.

“In view of the current difficulties faced by farmers in many aspects of their work, we encourage them to form farming co-ops. The establishment of these associations are voluntary and up to the choice of each farmer – but our ministry believes in the potential benefits they bring – so we have provided technical support and helped coordinate the legal registration process,” he said.

When farmers organise into co-ops, it is often to realise some particular benefit like increased negotiating power when selling their produce at market, he said.

However, he explained, they soon discover that it also helps them by allowing them to order raw materials and farming supplies at bulk prices and by giving them an expanded network of business contacts with new opportunities and even access to new markets for their produce.

He said the farmers who are co-op members are typically earning a higher income than others and expanding their businesses faster in comparison to those who were still trying to do everything on their own.

Chheng Thong, chairman of the board of the Sambo Meanchey Agricultural Cooperative in Kampong Cham province – one of the most successful co-ops supplying Cambodia’s vegetable and fruit markets – said their organisation’s growth had been motivated by the support and encouragement of the agriculture ministry, which provided helpful advice on things like planning, management and marketing.

“The formation of production teams and the preparation of production contracts is another benefit of pooling both our physical and mental resources. Our community’s success has motivated us to expand our agricultural production potential by buying another 10ha of land to bring under cultivation to meet market demands,” he said.

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