Tmatboey Village Farmer - In 2009, almost 36 tons of paddy rice was purchased at a 28% premium from four villages in the protected areas of Preah Vihear; over 14 tons had been sold by the end of November.
A partnership of non-governmental organizations (NGO) and government agencies has made the link between economic development and environmental conservation with the launch of the 'Wildlife-Friendly Ibis Rice Project'. This project provides local communities with an incentive to engage in conservation, by offering farmers a premium price for their rice if they agree to abide conservation agreements that are designed to protect the rare water birds and other species that use the protected areas.
The first of these agreements is a land-use plan that is developed by the local community and which clearly delineates the areas that farmers are permitted to clear for growing rice or other produce. This therefore limits the conversion of wetland areas to rice fields. They then develop a 'no-hunting' agreement, which outlaws the hunting and collection of rare waterbirds and their chicks.
These agreements are enforced by a locally elected natural resource management committee, which is composed of representatives from the village, and thus guarantees a high degree of 'local ownership' of the scheme. Since the majority of the inhabitants of rural communities in Cambodia are engaged in rice farming, the scheme has the potential to benefit a high proportion of the population within each village.
The implementation of the project in each village follows a prescribed number of simple steps. Firstly, a Village Marketing Network (VMN) is formed in the village. The VMN is responsible for purchasing the rice from farmers and verifying that the farmers have respected the conservation agreements, with oversight from the natural resource management committee. The VMN then stores the rice at a central location within the village. Transportation, processing and packaging, as well as the eventual marketing and sale of the rice, is coordinated by Sansom Mlup Prey.
SMP organizes the collection of the rice from each of the participating villages, and delivers it to a mill where it is processed. The rice is then packaged and labeled as Wildlife FriendlyTM, and delivered to those outlets that have been contracted to sell the rice. WCS Cambodia has received certification from the Wildlife Friendly Enterprise Network (WFEN,www.wildlifefriendly.org) for Ibis Rice so the rice can now be marketed under the Wildlife FriendlyTM brand. All contracts are negotiated by SMP, which is a non-profit organization. Farmers are paid when they supply their rice to the VMN, with the VMN funding the purchases from a cash advance provided by SMP; revenue earned by SMP is used to cover these advances, as well as funding their operating costs. Surplus revenue is returned to the VMNs to be divided amongst participating farmers.
You can donate ride to any legitimate organization or family in the Siem Reap area. SMP will deliver the rice and send you an email with proof of delivery - a photo of the recipient with the rice you have given them. This will also be posted here and on the Ibis Rice Facebook page.