Aproject encouraging farmers to grow organic rice in Kampot and Kampong Thom provinces
has been so successful that next year's harvest is expected to reach export markets.
The Rural Development Project, funded by the German Development Agency (GTZ), has
been promoting the idea of chemical-free rice cultivation to growers since 2003.
From 280 farmers involved in the project in 2003, participation has expanded to include
430 farming families across the two provinces.
Andrew McNaughton, managing director of Cambodia Biologicals Co Ltd, said his company
has collaborated with GTZ and other NGO projects involved in the production of organic
rice by providing processing and market services to communities.
"We are currently selling [chemical-free and organic rice] on the local market,
but we are working very hard on the export market," McNaughton said. "We
have already given samples to buyers in Europe and America and we are negotiating
While international demand exists, Cambodia has a limited quantity of organic rice
to satisfy export markets and buyers want to purchase in bulk, McNaughton said.
Without the expense of chemicals, farmers have reduced the costs of rice production,
and are being rewarded with similar yields and higher market prices for their organic
"Farmers don't need to spend money on chemical or artificial fertilizers and
pesticides anymore," said Keo Chandary, a GTZ program assistant responsible
for Chhouk and Chhumkiri districts in Kampot province.
She said farmers use methods such as manure and plant waste to naturally maintain
"Now farmers no longer suffer toxic substances, and organic rice farming also
helps to protect the environment and promote the return of beneficial insects that
kill pests," Chandary said.
It takes at least three years of natural farming methods to gain certification that
fields once sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers can be officially categorized
as organic. Until then, rice can be labeled as "chemical-free."
At Lucky Supermarket in Phnom Penh, a kilogram of certified organic rice sells for
$1.20, and chemical-free rice retails at $0.90 per kilogram. Regular rice costs between
$0.6 to $0.8 per kilogram.