The collective power of agricultural co-operatives could bring huge benefits to poor, small-scale farmers, a Phnom Penh conference for international World Food Day heard on Friday.
The sentiments were shared by the director of Cambodia’s General Directorate of Agriculture, So Khan Rithy Kun, who said farming co-ops played a significant role in ending world hunger and were part of Cambodia’s draft Law on the Management and Use of Agricultural Land, which is waiting to be passed.
The conference, held at the Royal University of Agriculture with the theme Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to Feeding the World and sponsored by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, drew farmers’ groups, civil society representatives and policymakers.
Chan Tong Yves, secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, said that despite last year’s disastrous floods and a relatively dry 2012, Cambodia’s rice crops were in good shape. There were 350 rice co-operatives and no shortage of crops, but greater production was needed, he said.
Yves said World Food Day highlighted the potential for agricultural co-operatives and producer organisations in providing food security, generating income and creating employment.
Attendee Pen Samouen said the potential for co-operatives was enormous.
“If the famer produces crops for the family, we get the result only for the family, but if we join a co-operative to produce a large amount, the result can go so far as to end hunger,” he said.
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