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Chan Sophea of the Cambodia Chefs Association and Hai Vuthy, the group’s president. Thik Kaliyann

From Field to Wok: Bringing farmers and chefs together

Program aims to increase both use and production of organic vegetables

The Cambodia Chefs Association last weekend organised for 100 chefs to visit Kro Bei Reil commune, where the local community grows organic vegetables.

Association president Hai Vuthy said the excursion was organised in conjunction with Agrisud International as part of its first-ever From Field to Wok program to encourage chefs to use more locally grown produce and to show farmers that there was demand for their product.

“We would like to bring our chefs to meet local farmers because when the chefs came to the village, they can see what kind of crops that the farmers have. So after that, the chef will try to cook dishes by using the natural ingredients that we have here,” Vuthy said.

At Kro Bei Riel, almost every villager has their own patch of organic garden.

However, even though just a few Siem Reap hotels and restaurants have already started buying chemical-free vegetables from local farmers, demand has already outstripped supply, Vuthy said.

“That’s why we encourage [the farmers] to grow more, and then we will help to buy more,” he said.

The program has also provided a chance for farmers and chefs to build relationships by sharing experiences and ideas on how to work together, said Long Bora, vice president of the chefs’ association.

“We’ll know what they want and they’ll know what we want,” he said.

Bora said more hotels and restaurants in Siem Reap should support local farmers by buying local products as it would encourage the farmers to grow more crops.

“It’s not only that you’ll get healthy food to eat, but it’ll also help to support our local farmers,” he added.

A local farmer, Yoeun Yin, who grows many kinds of crops such as pepper, leafy greens and eggplant, said the program was proving very helpful in expanding the market for villagers’ produce.

“I do not want to see our people or tourists eat chemical-covered vegetables imported from other countries,” he said.

“I promise to work hard to grow more crops to satisfy market demand, and I hope to get support from everyone as well.”

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