IDACA NEWS

NO.107

Oct. 31, 2016

INTRODUCTION OF NEW TRAINING PROJECT

REPORTS ON TRAINING COURSES

  1. FY2015 ICA/Japan Training Course on Fostering Core Leaders of Agricultural Cooperatives
    Message from a Former Participant
  2. FY2016 JICA Training Course on “Development of Agricultural Cooperatives and Improvement of Management Capacity (A)”
    An Opportunity for Exchanges to Reach Out to Others

REPORTS ON PROJECT OTHER THAN TRAINING COURSES

OVERSEAS BUISINESS TRIP REPORTS

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OVERSEAS BUISINESS TRIP REPORTS

FY2015 ICA/IDACA Follow-up Program (Cambodia)

The FY2015 Follow-up Guidance and Survey Project jointly conducted by the International Cooperative Alliance - Asia and Pacific (ICA-AP) and IDACA was carried out, targeting the Philippines and Cambodia. Following the report on activities in the Philippines, which was posted on the previous “IDACA News,” we will report on activities in Cambodia this time.

The contact organization receiving the survey team was the Department of Agricultural Cooperative Promotion (DACP) under the Cambodian Government’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries. The DACP willingly took care of coordination in various matters such as making various arrangements and contacting former participants. Also, many of the former participants who gathered opined that their participation in the training course resulted in the improvement of their personal skills as well as their awareness of work, and that they recognized the importance of cooperatives and began working to create farmers’ organizations. We came to realize that many participants who acquired knowledge and experience through training in Japan are engaged in various activities and that their enthusiasm has become a driving force for the cooperative movement.

 

1. The Current Situation of Agricultural Cooperatives

The Royal Decree on Cooperatives in Cambodia was issued in 2001, while the law concerning agricultural cooperatives was enforced in 2013. This law makes it possible for farmers’ groups to establish jointly-owned agriculture-based business entities, and operate and supervise them. Agricultural cooperatives may engage in joint purchasing and sales of production materials, and that includes revitalizing micro and small-scale entrepreneurship activities in rural areas, increasing social and cultural values, and diversifying agricultural productivity. In addition, it is written in the law that agricultural cooperatives can collaborate with relevant organizations including development partners such as private firms, government, and NGOs.

Although there was only one agricultural cooperative with 38 members in 2001, there are 750 registered agricultural cooperatives today, and membership has reached 77,373. Women members account for 56% (43,832 people) of the total membership. The number of units of contributions by members is 623,678 and the amount of contributions paid totals 5,316,375 US dollars.

DACP Director Chea Saintdona has said: “I remember very well about what was happening in 2001. Although 30 members were required to form an agricultural cooperative, we were able to assemble only 29 members at the beginning. Many farmers were reluctant to join because the amount of contribution was set too high. I went around the villages, and spent six days to explain about cooperatives and their advantages. We finally managed to gather 33 members and were able to establish an agricultural cooperative. As of 2016, there is a considerable number of cooperatives and members, and we are considering creating a cooperative alliance.”

The agriculture, forestry and fishery industries in Cambodia account for about 30 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), and are still important industries. The area of farmland accounts for about 30% of the national land. Of that, rice cultivation accounts for about 70%.

Major agricultural products include rice, cassava, corn, and natural rubber, and rice cultivation is basically practiced during the rainy season and relies on rain water. In addition, Cambodia has a small population and mechanization has not progressed, and consequently, agricultural productivity is low. In contrast to Vietnam, where rice is harvested three time a year, rice is typically harvested once a year in Cambodia, except in some regions where irrigation facilities are functioning. Whereas last year the numerical target for rice export was 1 million tons, Cambodia managed to export 600,000 tons of rice in the end, and thus failed to achieve its numerical target. The reality is that many fruits and vegetables are being imported from Thailand and Vietnam.

 

2. Interviews with Former Participants

The number of participants covered in the follow-up survey was 15 (number of former participants who participated in ICA training courses between FY2013 and FY2015). In the latest follow-up survey, 10 of the 15 participants gathered in the conference room at DACP, and we interviewed them on such matters as the status of implementation of the action plans they drew up during their training courses.

The results of the survey were cases in which three former participants achieved some kind results including reports that results have been achieved by regularly holding training sessions to improve technical capacity for increasing productivity; cases in which four participants partially implemented their action plans, but the plans were suspended midway due to budget shortfalls; and cases where three participants have yet to implement their action plans because they were unable to raise funds. Gaining support through collaboration with NGOs and former participants taking the initiative and implementing their projects can be cited as factors that helped the successful former participants to achieve success. In contrast, among other things, not being able to continue working on the same task due to personnel changes, etc. and failure to gain the approval of supervisors, or obtain financial support from NGOs, etc. were cited as factors that prevented implementation of the action plans. Opinions were voiced from the Japanese side that with regard to action plans, if it has been found out that implementation would be difficult, the participants should draw up revised plans, and that in implementing the plans, the participants need to collaborate with relevant organizations, constantly conduct monitoring, and perform follow- ups after implementing the plans.

 

3. Visits to Agricultural Cooperatives

After the interviews, the survey team visited three agricultural cooperatives in Takeo Province and Kampot Province that are under the guidance of former participants.

1) Stok Sdom Agricultural Cooperative

This agricultural cooperative was founded by 63 members in 2008, and it now has 265 members (123 male members and 142 female members). Within its area of jurisdiction are 14 villages in the Prey Khamba Region of Takeo Province. The cooperative has six board directors (5 men and 1 woman) and does not hire any employees. The directors share daily tasks and receive 50 US dollars in remuneration. The amount of a unit of contribution is 25 US dollars, and the amount of contribution that has been paid in is 47,000 US dollars.

The agricultural cooperative primarily purchases rice from farmers, mills the rice, and sells it to private-sector merchants. This agricultural cooperative is also engaged in the savings and credit business (interest rate of 2 percent for savings, 2.5% to 2.6% interest rate on loans).

The problems that it currently faces include consolidation of dispersed agricultural land, shortage of precipitation, and shortage of funds. This agricultural cooperative uses an annual business report format under the guidance of JICA experts.

2) Roluos Meas Agricultural Cooperative

This agricultural cooperative started in 2003 as a farmers’ group and became an agricultural cooperative in 2013. It was registered on January 18, 2013 as an agricultural cooperative with 111 members, and there are currently 204 members (including 134 women). The amount of a unit of contribution is 25 US dollars, and the amount of contribution that has been paid in is 53,150 US dollars. Within its area of jurisdiction are seven villages, where the cooperative is engaged in such businesses as the credit business, the sale of fertilizers, supplying of livestock feed and drinking water.

The cooperative’s seven principles written in the Khmer language were posted on the wall, along with the cooperative’s organizational chart, a list of its members, and financial information, among other things. Education on cooperative philosophy is actively promoted, and the board directors were saying: “We encourage participation in agricultural cooperatives, but we do not force anybody pay contributions. We respect education and raise funds to help our members and children.”

In addition, this village has been selected for the NGO World Vision’s “Child Support” program, and has been offered training in such matters as bookkeeping, business planning and development, and leadership.

 

3) Kampot Pepper Agricultural Cooperative

Kampot Pepper Agricultural Cooperative was founded in 2009, and it currently has 342 members. This area is in one of the largest pepper producing area in the country, and the agricultural cooperative offers training on production technology and provides financial services, agricultural production materials, etc. to its members. It also hires one full-time employee. Mr. Moon Lai, who is a board director for the agricultural cooperative, was saying: “We have been working on increasing business opportunities, finding marketing channels, and conducting price negotiations for poor farmers. Pepper is the major crop of the province, and we would like more farmers to join our agricultural cooperative.”

In order to obtain certification as Kampot pepper, the grain diameter must be at least 4 millimeters. Quality inspections are conducted by agricultural cooperatives, committees, and external organizations. There are three types of pepper: black pepper (purchase price of US $14 per kilogram, and selling price of US $15); red pepper (purchase price of US $24 per kilogram, and selling price of US $25); and white pepper (purchase price of US $27 per kilogram, and selling price of US $28). This agricultural cooperative has received support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Commerce, and local development agencies, and its total sales for the last fiscal year was US $1 million.