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Interest in going organic grows with local farmers

A store attendant arranges organic produce in a display fridge last year at the Khmer Cooperative Organic shop in Phnom Penh.
A store attendant arranges organic produce in a display fridge last year at the Khmer Cooperative Organic shop in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Interest in going organic grows with local farmers

The Cambodian Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (Cedac), an organisation that supports local farming families and agricultural development projects, has seen strong interest in organic farming and expects to double the number of certified organic farmers and area under cultivation within a year.

“Farmers are increasingly interested in organic certification since it allows them to sell their products at a higher price and ensures that there is always a market for their goods, even if the organic farming process is complicated,” Cedac founder and former President Yang Saing Koma said yesterday.

He said organic products fetch 20 to 50 percent more than their nonorganic counterparts in the market, allowing farmers to earn more profit.

Cedac membership currently includes a total of 1,571 organic farmers and 2,681 hectares of organic-certified land. By mid-2018, Koma expects this to grow to 3,000 farmers and 5,000 hectares of land, with organisation targeting a total of 10,000 certified organic farmers by 2022.

It typically takes four years for farmers and farmland to qualify for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standard, or three years for the European Union standard, Koma explained. During this time crops are closely monitored by certification bodies, and annual inspections help ensure that the products meet and maintain the stringent quality and food safety requirements of the US and EU standards.

“We believe organic standards are important in order to build confidence among consumers in our products and to improve their access to the international market,” Koma said, adding that Cedac spent about $20,000 on accreditation this year.

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