Paying small farmers more, protecting fragile habitat and safeguarding spectacular wildlife, now there’s a win-win!
Encroaching agricultural land is a perennial challenge for the protection of national parks around the world. In Cambodia, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) developed an innovative approach to conservation by promoting wildlife friendly farming techniques. The project area is home to important habitat for birds and mammals, including Giant Ibis, White-shouldered Ibis, Bengal Florican, and three Critically Endangered vulture species, Asian Elephants, Tigers and wild cattle.
To protect this rare habitat WCS works with farmers’ cooperatives to offer preferential prices for rice contingent on farmers implementing land-use and no-hunting agreements, with the aim of minimizing human impact on protected areas.
Funded by a Development Marketplace grant in 2008, the project works with rice farmers to practice wildlife friendly farming techniques. To manage the process WCS started a local non-profit NGO called Sansom Mlup Prey that increases the capacity of farmer cooperatives to manage the supply chain for a certified Wildlife FriendlyTM product called Ibis Rice. The rice is marketed as a boutique product sold to high-end tourist hotels and gourmet shops and fetches a higher price than other locally grown rice.
During the past 2 years, 125 families received premiums of over 20% for 119 tons of paddy sold in 20+ establishments in Cambodia. The project expects to reach sustainability by 2015 with steadily increasing local rice sales and identification of buyers in the international market. Additional grant funding will be required for this scale up, but so far the project is off to a great start! Read more about the project here.