Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bank backs eco-friendly farming

Bank backs eco-friendly farming

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Smallholder famers living in seven wildlife conservation areas of Mondulkiri and Stung Treng provinces have to commit to not allow any logging or hunting on their land and to prohibit the use of chemicals to participate in the project. Heng Chivoan

Bank backs eco-friendly farming

Ibis Rice Conservation Co Ltd (IBIS Rice) has signed a financing agreement with South Korean-owned Phnom Penh Commercial Bank Plc (PPCBank) to support 1,500 smallholder farmers to grow organic wildlife-friendly jasmine rice, which will help protect endangered species while also earning a premium price for the farmers.

IBIS Rice CEO Nick Spencer said on December 16 that his firm currently works with the 1,500 farmers and pays them a premium of 50 per cent above market price for organic jasmine rice to encourage their use of wildlife-friendly practices. He did not specify how much of that money would go to support the 1,500 smallholder famers living in seven wildlife conservation areas of Stung Treng and Mondulkiri provinces.

In order to participate in the project, farmers have to commit to not allowing any logging or hunting on their land and to prohibit the use of chemicals, thereby protecting the environment and wildlife.

IBIS Rice was founded by the US-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and is named after the Giant Ibis, Cambodia’s national bird.

“We have recruited and trained more farmers, so we need additional capital financing to buy more rice from those farmers. We make very strong commitments to our farmers by buying all of the [rice] they can produce that meets our compliance standards,” Spencer said.

According to Spencer, the rice is certified wildlife-friendly and organic, meeting the standards set by the EU and US Department of Agriculture (USDA). This allows it to be sold globally in high-end markets, including Europe and Canada. The project has significantly improved the farmer’s livelihoods while reducing deforestation by 75 per cent in the areas where these farmers live and cultivate rice.

In a joint press release on December 16, PPCBank senior vice-president Nhak Kimsroy said the bank appreciated the benefits that the IBIS Rice project provided to both smallholder farmers and wildlife conservation efforts in Cambodia in addition to it being worthy of financing as a sound business opportunity.

“We could see from the certifications that IBIS Rice holds, and the strong commitments its international buyers make, that this was a strong proposal. This agreement marks the beginning of long partnership, and we look forward to the company’s growth,” he said.

Robb Menzi, chief operating officer of WCS Cambodia and chairman of IBIS Rice, said in the joint press release that WCS Cambodia originally developed the IBIS Rice project as a conservation tool with the support of Cambodian government in 2009.

The objective was to incentivise local communities to engage in conservation through the purchase of organic jasmine rice at a premium from farmers who commit to protect the forest and stop hunting.

The project has improved local livelihoods while addressing the threat to some of Cambodia’s critically endangered species, including Giant Ibis.

“WCS has supported IBIS Rice through its development and start-up phase – it is a shining example of how an enterprise model can create great products for consumers and deliver real conservation and human wellbeing outcomes,” he said.

In a press release, Christy Owen, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Green Invest Asia, said the IBIS Rice partnership with PPCBank was a great example of the work that USAID Green Invest Asia accomplished, linking up commercial financing with projects that produce proven carbon savings and positive social impact.

“We congratulate the two sides for this meaningful partnership that will benefit an entire supply chain while helping to preserve the habitat of some of the rarest species in Cambodia,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Phnom Penh governor: Show Covid-19 vaccination cards, or else

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng late on October 5 issued a directive requiring all people aged 18 and over and the parents of children aged 6-17 to produce Covid-19 vaccination cards when entering schools, markets, malls, marts, eateries and other business establishments that have been permitted

  • Cambodia seeks probe into 'false reports' on Hun Sen's alleged Cypriot passport

    Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on September 6 wrote a letter to his Cypriot counterpart Stephie Dracos requesting cooperation in investigating and providing the truth in relation to the "exaggerative and false allegations" that Prime Minister Hun Sen holds a Cypriot passport. In his letter, the

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • 'Pandora Papers' expose leaders' offshore millions

    More than a dozen heads of state and government, from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic, have used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the