Are vegetables at an organic shop truly organic?

A common question that many customers ask the organic supplier

It is a matter of quality, trust and satisfactory.

Ms. Chhounso Chenda, a sale manager at Khmer Organic Cooperative, photo taken by Reth Vicheka

Ms. Chhounso Chenda, a sale manager at Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC) in Phnom Penh says that customers deserve to know every detail of products they consumer.

At KOC when the customers come to the shop, it is a policy that a shop assistant explains about the vegetables and fruits displayed such their origins, how they are produced and when the products are good for, according to Ms. Chenda.

In building trust and satisfactory, she further says the shop also provides services to bring customers upon their request on a “green tour” to explore the process of planting, cutting and packaging. The cost is partly shared between KOC and the customers. At the farm, the customer can test the vegetable directly.

“Once the customers test our fresh vegetables, they will feel the differences between the organic and non-organic produces and can decide if they would like to continue to support us,” said the sale manager.

At the same time, quality of the produces is a must.

Fresh produces at Khmer Organic Cooperative, photo taken by Lim Davin

To further improve its quality standard, KOC applies for a certification from the control union of Cambodia. “Certification from the control union is like an insurance that we truly carry the organic standard,” she said.

“We believe that once we have the high quality product, the customer will trust us better.”

At KOC Ms. Chenda says that the quality comes first and sale volume comes second. Even though there are high demands of organic vegetables and fruits, KOC chooses not to import the produces from other farms or shops, but upholds an idea to grow vegetables and fruits on their contract farms based on soil condition and weather.

“It is not that we do not want to increase the sales supply, but we do not want to import any vegetables and fruits that we are not certain about their origins,” said Ms. Chenda.

By doing these, she says the shop has increasingly gained trust from the customers. She adds that regular customers now ring for home delivery. And, the shop will arrange a basket full of variety of vegetables and fruits and just send to the customers.

Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC) in Phnom Penh

“We only need to make sure that there will be no repetition for the next week’s delivery,” said Ms. Chenda.

Participant checking news sample during the workshop, photo taken by Keo Chenda

The story and photos are outcomes of a three-day workshop ‘Impact Story Writing and Basic Photography’ for project staff of Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security of Landless and Land-Poor Households, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS), and their partner, Khmer Organic Cooperative. The workshop was conducted in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 14-16 February 2017 and attended by 14 attendees. ASEAN SAS Communication Officer provided the training.

By Keo Chenda, Lim Davin, and Reth Vicheka, Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security of Landless and Land-Poor Households and Khmer Organic Cooperative

Group photo