In Cambodia, over a thousand farming communities play a vital role in enhancing the livelihood of local farmers and preserving their traditions. One such community, the Sambo Meanchey Agricultural Cooperative in Kampong Cham province, is making significant strides by focusing on the cultivation of lemongrass.

The cooperative, nestled in the Sambor village of Sopheas commune, Stung Trang district, has helped improve the economy of the area. With around 200 households participating, it has seen success in cultivating nearly 100ha of lemongrass.

“On average, our cooperative can produce and sell 3 tonnes of lemongrass per month which allows the community to earn 1,500 million riels on average per year for lemongrass alone,” said Chheng Thong, the cooperative’s president.

Thong revealed that markets for their products span Kampong Cham and extend to others such as Deum Kor, Neak Meas in the capital, and Prek Anchanh in Kandal province. However, the cooperative’s ambitions extend beyond lemongrass.

Although a successful crop, Thong shared that they continually diversify their farming efforts, as many local producers also grow lemongrass.

Processing lemongrass into oil is a significant source of income for the cooperative. Despite its time-consuming nature, the oil offers many applications, from treating body aches to serving as an insect repellent.

“After the end of the Covid-19 crisis, we began to find a strong market, and our oil products have received a lot of support...especially from hotels, massage parlours, and other shops,” Thong stated.

The president of the cooperative envisions a prosperous future for its members, thanks to their diverse crop cultivation practices.

“Before, there was no farming cooperative, we lived in isolation...but when we have an agricultural cooperative, we can expand more businesses, we can easily find markets, and our income is obtained accordingly,” he reflected.

Established in 2010, Sambo Meanchey Agricultural Cooperative has since expanded its operations. It now delves into numerous businesses, including community credit, agricultural fertiliser production, safe paddy rice varieties, vegetables, papaya, lemongrass, lemongrass oil, fruit trees, as well as product transportation services.