Behind the scene of organic business

Despite of imbalance financial returns, organic business in Cambodia currently still keeps moving forward.

In doing this organic business, Ms. Thlang Sovann Pisey, a director of Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC) initially expected to get a return on investment within three years.

“But now it seems I have to wait further,” said Ms. Pisey.

Ms. Thlang Sovann Pisey, Director of Khmer Organic Cooperative (KOC) Photo by Chhai Kosal

She explained that although KOC could manage to have a sales balance, there were some challenges with a high operational cost.

“In order to operate the organic business well, we have to invest in setting the structures such as production operation, post-harvest and processing, shop, marketing and support team including logistics and administration,” she said.

Ms. Pisey still wants to continue the organic business, however. She has strong commitment and willingness for the sake of health and ecology system for people in Cambodia.

KOC was established four years ago amid a concern over chemical residues adding to an increasing interest of organic produces among consumers in Phnom Penh. The company specializes in producing vegetable and fruits in an organic way. It was found by Mr. Ieng Sotheara, a former medical doctor. The founder first opened an agricultural input shop selling crop seeds, fertilizers, and agriculture tools. The idea of organic shop came later in respond to the over chemical application in Cambodia’s agriculture.

Photo by Canady Mao
Photo by Nop Sopheak

In sustaining the business, Ms. Pisey said trust among customers was the KOC’s first priority. In doing so, KOC has established a model farm of 20 hectares to introduce the organic concept and provide suitable technical knowledge and skills through training and workshop to farmers. The KOC model farms now receive an official organic certification, EU standard, from the Control Union of Cambodia.

Besides, KOC wants to bring organic products to other contract super markets. However, due to the availability, it needs to only focus on the supply to KOC in this stage.

Photo by Oum Sina

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 in Cambodia. The workshop was conducted in Phnom Penh from 14-16 February 2017 and attended by 14 attendees. ASEAN SAS Communication Officer provided the training.

By Chhai Kosal, Nop Sopheak and Oum Sina Improvement of Livelihood and Food Security of Landless and Land-Poor Households and Canady Mao, Khmer Organic Cooperative