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NGO partner promotes best practices for rubber farms

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Farmers travel on a rubber plantation in Mondulkiri province. Heng Chivoan

NGO partner promotes best practices for rubber farms

The General Directorate of Rubber under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and World Wide Fund for Nature-Cambodia (WWF-Cambodia) have announced their cooperation to build a multilateral partnership for transparent and sustainable natural rubber supply chains in the Kingdom.

WWF-Cambodia country director Seng Teak and rubber directorate director-general Pol Sopha signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on January 12.

A press release from WWF-Cambodia noted that the MoU established a framework where all parties share knowledge and information on sustainable rubber production and contribute to policies pertaining to natural rubber supply chains.

The MoU also aims to provide opportunities for capacity building in sustainable practices and fostering participation from small businesses in protecting the community’s natural resources, it said.

Funded by the German government’s Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development through aid agency Welthungerhilfe, the multilateral partnership platform also incorporates other Southeast Asian countries including Thailand and Myanmar.

During three years of cooperation in Cambodia, participants have included the government, NGOs, private sector investors and small-scale rubber producers in Mondulkiri province, promoting sustainable rubber production and contributing to the livelihoods of indigenous famers and labourers.

Teak said promoting responsible practices by small rubber plantations in Cambodia would create jobs and incomes for local communities and reduce pressures on natural resources by optimising use of land and preventing illegal encroachment on forests.

“The MoU signing ceremony today has opened a new charter for WWF-Cambodia in its efforts to work in partnership with relevant technical and responsible government agencies,” he said.

Currently, 100 small rubber producers from five Community Protected Areas adjacent to the WWF- supported Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary were already involved in the programme, and the aim is to reach three times as many by 2022.

Sopha of the rubber directorate said: “Building capacity and providing technical skills to small plantation owners and the officials in the sector, combined with active participation from all key stakeholders, will contribute to sustainable development of Cambodia’s rubber industry.”

In order to help guide sustainable practices, government offices have partnered with WWF-Cambodia and the Cambodian Rubber Research Institute to publish and distribute a technical guidebook of good agricultural practices pertaining to latex harvesting techniques.

The manual has been accompanied by training sessions including practical demonstrations and hands-on experience at rubber plantation sites involving 60 small producers and officials from 20 provinces across the country.

Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon estimated that rubber exports last year amounted to 340,000 tonnes worth $459 million.

Cambodia’s rubber plantations span 401,914ha with industrial production accounting for 60 per cent of the total at 240,811ha and family farms at 161,103ha, according to Sakhon.

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