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Wildlife Conservation Society's Ibis Rice Project Procures Rice for 2011

Karen Wachtel Nielsen's picture

The Wildlife Friendly Ibis Rice program has begun purchasing a new crop of rice for the coming year. The first 7 tons of paddy (out of a total of about 120 tons for 2011) was procured last week. Participating farmers were paid a premium of 100 riel per kilogram above middleman prices for their rice.

Sansom Mlup Prey (SMP) oversees the procurement, working with the village marketing network (VMN) committee. Committee members verify that the six farmers who sold an average of 1.12 tons of paddy each have not broken the rules and therefore are in good standing and qualify for the wildlife friendly scheme.

SMP will continue this process, until the aim of buying 30 tons from each of the four pilot villages is met. The villages are Tmatboey, Dangphlet, Prey Veng and Narong, located in the province of Preah Vihear, Cambodia.

Cambodia's Northern Plains - Ibis Rice Pilot Villages


Submitted by Kirsten on
Hi Karen, Thanks so much for the update on the project. What percentage of compliance are you seeing with participating farmers abiding by the conservation guidelines to which they have agreed? Are you noticing any patterns of where they are breaking with the guidelines? Also would be interesting to know the incremental increase (in percentage) the premium represents. For example are they getting 20% more in payment by excluding the middleman? Also how is the product selling? The packaging is really nice! Best, Kirsten

Hello Karen, Our organization (Nikela) assists those who battle animal poaching in South Africa. Some say that if the locals had income alternatives (besides the bush meat market, horn and bone trafficking) poaching would abate. Have you found that supporting the locals via the rice project has decreased poaching in the area? Smiles, Margrit

Submitted by Karen on
Hi Margrit, As we are only in our 4th year in 5 villages and our first in another 5, it is a bit early to say. However, the wildlife monitoring in our protected areas show numbers are increasing, so that is a positive correlation, if not causation. We have found that it does take a few years for villagers to trust the scheme and realize that their actions affect how they might benefit from joining the Wildlife Friendly cooperative, and earn more for their paddy. cheers, Karen

Submitted by Anonymous on
Hey Karen, Out of curiosity, the Ibis rice seed is what variety, exactly? Is it genetically modified, is it the Jasmine 105 variety that is popularly grown and exported in Southeast Asia? Or is it a variety that is local to Northern Cambodia? Best, Liza

Submitted by Karen on
Hi Liza, Ibis Rice is pkha malis rice. Malis is translated as jasmine, however Thailand owns the 'jasmine rice' label. According to Craig Meisner, a rice expert in Phnom Penh, our rice is 'Cambodia's uniquely aromatic rice, passed down through millenniums from generation to generation.' This is not a variety, but a blend of landraces that makes Cambodian rice uniquely bio-diverse. Though each grain maybe different than others, together, it represents ancient selections blended for its aroma.' It is not genetically modified. It might pass as Jasmine 105 since a lot of Cambodian rice makes it across both Vietnam and Thailand borders informally and is sold as either Thai or Vietnamese rice. No, I don't believe it's endemic to Northern Cambodia but it is widely held that the pkha malis rice grown in Preah Vihear forests are tastiest. cheers, Karen

Submitted by Anonymous on
Hi. What do you mean when you say that Ibis Rice is "naturally grown" - what is your approach to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides please?

Submitted by Karen on
No chemicals are used in growing Ibis Rice. Those who grow the rice typically are subsistence farmers who have never had the extra cash to spend on chemicals. These days FAO is providing chemical fertilizers to many poor farmers through out Cambodia however, as our target areas are designated protected areas, introducing chemicals, though possibly beneficial for farmers, might adversely affect wildlife. Additionally, many of the villagers we work with are not literate and, as happens elsewhere in this country, use of chemicals does not always mean that directions are being read or followed. In order to participate in the Ibis Rice scheme, farmers cannot use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. We do provide training on organic methods, and our farmers use manure and where available, bad guano. SRI was also introduced however most opt not to use this method of growing rice. best, Karen

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