Pailin provincial governor Ban Sreymom has unveiled a new initiative to purchase agricultural products from smallholding farmers, with the aim of boosting local produce and promoting organic farming.

Sreymom said on September 11 that the primary motivation for the plan is to address the lack of information available to smaller growers, which often results in them selling their produce at below-market value.

“We’re stepping in to buy from them at fair prices, without any intention of profiteering,” she said.

Sreymom also emphasised her desire to reduce dependency on imported fruits and vegetables, which often contain harmful chemicals. She encouraged local cultivators to continue using natural fertilisers to maintain the reputation of the province’s agricultural products.

“This is the first step; if successful, we’ll extend the programme to neighbouring provinces,” she added.

Bun Sieng, founder of the Natural Agriculture Village (NAV) – an organic vegetable buyer – supports the initiative, suggesting that it could solve the issue of market access for farmers.

“As long as our produce meets safety standards, finding buyers shouldn’t be a challenge. We’re pleased to see more support from authorities,” she said.

Yem Nary, owner of a greenhouse garden that only sells naturally-grown produce, shared her struggles with competing against cheaper, imported products.

“Local products often cost more and may not look as appealing as imported ones. Despite sometimes operating at a loss, I still buy from local farms. Any help in finding additional purchasers, especially during harvest seasons to prevent oversupply, would be welcomed,” Nary said.