What constitutes art has been a point of debate throughout the ages. But it’s undeniable that art has an inextricable connection with identity.
Handcrafts in Cambodia, which range from utilitarian to ornamental, are reflections of our Kingdom’s regional identity.
In Phnom Penh, Khmer Farmer Products has opened up shop to bring handcrafts from rural farmers in Siem Reap and Battambang provinces to the city.
Khmer Farmer Products is an initiative of Farmer Livelihood Development, a local NGO created by the Ministry of Interior in 2002 aimed at alleviating poverty.
“Farmer Livelihood Development has a plan to train Cambodian farmers to have additional skills other than crop cultivation, and when they finish training, we’ll give them funding to open their businesses,” said Sam Chhay, a marketing manager at Khmer Farmer Products.
“We want them to have additional skills so they can earn more day-to-day,” he added.
For areas too rural to have markets, employees of the Development come to gather bamboo handcrafts from the farmers and bring them back to Khmer Farmer Products to sell.
Unlike many other shops in Phnom Penh today, the product demographic of Khmer Farmer Products is local – made from one Cambodian national, and sold to another.
“Raising awareness in Cambodia of [locally sourced] products has changed. These days, we can see most of our customers are Cambodian people,” Sam Chhay said.
Sam Chhay continued that one driving force for high sales is the growing trend of buying local art, which can be seen decorating the halls of five-star hotels and restaurants.
“Some products run out of stock fast. We have a high demand but we also have a good supply,” he said.
The prices of Khmer Farmer Products’ bamboo handcrafts vary, but most fall within a range of US$1 to $7.
A part of all proceeds will go to the Farmer Livelihood Development to aid the farmers.