The demand is there, but we just don't grow enough local products to supply it
Bad news for carnivorous expatriates living in Siem Reap who like their food natural and unprocessed: First Modern Butcher Shop, the only retail outlet in town supplying organic meat to consumers, has shut down due to lack of patronage.
“There were actually a lot of Koreans coming, but we just didn’t have enough customers to sustain it,” owner Rasy Sim said of the shop, which had opened on January 3, 2008.
But the good news is Rasy Sim has vowed to open another retail outlet in the future, so Eurocentric Siem Reap residents will be able to get their paté and sausage fix.
And he’s still supplying wholesale organic fruit, vegetables, meat and poultry from his farms in Pouk commune to hotels, restaurants and markets around Siem Reap. His buyers include such big names as Le Meridien Angkor and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor.
Expatriates can still get some of their organic fix from Lucky Market at Lucky Mall, where a few of Rasy Sim’s organic lines are also sold. But his deal with Lucky Market precludes him from stocking his produce at Angkor Market, long the favoured supermarket among Siem Reap’s expat set.
Rasy Sim also operates the Fresh from Farm Farmers Association, or Triple F, which he founded in 2004. Triple F comprises a group of 13 farmers who are being trained to improve production quality so they can sell produce to the kitchens of the big hotels, which mostly import from neighbouring countries.
Triple F’s farmers are provided room and board and three square meals a day. They raise various organic crops in symbiotic relationships to maximise growth.
“We grow tomato with radish, and lettuce with eggplant. We mix leaf, fruit and root in the same bed. They help each other grow,” Rasy Sim said.
Triple F’s aim is to promote local products, thereby improving the lives of Siem Reap farmers and reducing the Kingdom’s reliance on produce from Vietnam and Thailand. Ironically, Rasy Sim’s organisation also imports produce from Vietnam and Thailand for distribution.
“The demand is there, but we just don’t grow enough local products to supply it,” said Rasy Sim, who studied business in Paris and lived in France for 20 years. “Our intention in the future is to be able to supply it all from Cambodia.”