FNN Provincial Assembly in Kampot Province
On 12 February 2011, the Farmer and Nature Net (FNN) organized the provincial assembly at Dorng Tong district, Kampot province. More than 150 participants, including 44 women, participated in the one day assembly. They came from all seven districts of the province such as: Kampong Trach, Ankor Chey, Banteay Meas, Chum Kiri, Toeuk Chhou, Chhouk and Dorng Tong. The participants are leaders or representatives representing 138 farmers associations and 4 Agricultural Development Communities (Farmers Cooperative) of the province. Distinguished guests joining this important event included Vice-governors of five districts, chief of the commune or commune councilors of 21 communes, village representatives, CEDAC President, CEDAC Executive Director, FNN Director, FNF Program Manager and some local CEDAC staff.
The objectives of the assembly were to present the activities results of farmers associations in each district in 2010, to reflect on the challenges of leading and managing their associations, to reflect on the collaboration with local authorities and other stakeholders and to elect the FNN representatives at the provincial level.
In the morning session and after the opening remarks by the Vice-Governor of Dorng Tong district, time was allocated for summary presentations of the achieved results from each district, made by the representative of FNN at the district level. Progress reports were focused on following programme: Saving and credit program, youth group, women group, Bio-digester, natural resource conservation, saving for prosperity program, agricultural development communities/paddy rice milled associations, farmer promoters etc
The presentations reflected the continuity of the activities at the local level after CEDAC projects finished. Besides, there were collective actions to build village roads, water gates facilitated by farmer’s associations itselves. According to Dr. Koma, there are currently only two CEDAC programme in the province: Bio-digester and the technical support to vegetable producer group. He is very proud to see farmers able to work together in a sustainable way via farmers association networks.
One young farmer from Kampong Trach district made following impressions regarding the progress he observed in his district:
- Through farmer organizations, villagers meet regularly in the saving groups, youth groups, women groups etc. During meetings people shared technical knowledge and important information. It helped to enhance the capability of farmers to speak in the public and to facilitate the meeting
- Farmers have better knowledge on land law, good governance issues, other stakeholders’ development program through different kinds of workshops or trainings
- Saving for self-reliance, reducing the cash flow out of the community and promote self-help collective activities etc.
After the presentations, floor was provided to participants for questions and answers sessions. Time was also allocated for comments from the local authorities as well. Some farmer’s representatives mentioned about the challenges of leading the associations to meet the needs of farmers. Some raised the points of low paddy price and the limited capacity of farmers cooperatives to have enough fund to purchase paddy from its members. Mr. Uon Sophal, Chairman of FNN and Dr. Koma, President of CEDAC, provided answers referring to challenges and constraints FNN, CEDAC and the Royal Government of Cambodia currently are facing and urged farmers to raise more local capital for cooperative’s businesses. In the afternoon and after Q & A sessions, elections were organized to elect FNN representatives at the provincial level. Each district nominated five members to cast the votes. As result, three candidates were elected for the next three years mandate:
- Mr. Uon Sophal, from Dorng Tong district, 32 votes
- Mrs. Chey Siyat, from Kampong Trach district, 31 votes and
- Mr. Mao That, 20 votes
Before the assembly came to an end, Dr. Koma from CEDAC informed the audience that nationwide CEDAC implemented projects in 20 provinces (out of 24), in 90 districts (out of 185), in 600 communes (out of 1621) and in around 3000 villages (out of 13,000 villages). He is happy to see that farmers are able to continue those activities despite the end of the projects. 3 benefits could be generated via these collective actions: 1. spiritual benefit; 2. information and knowledge sharing and 3. resources mobilization (i.e. 2,000 million Riels were saved and used locally). This is CEDAC approaches to make local development sustainable.
CEDAC appreciated FNN, especially of this province, that made this assembly happened. First, it is organized by FNN and farmers themselves and second, farmers associations pay for transport costs by themselves as contribution. The financial support from Canadian Cooperative Association (CCA) used to provide lunch and dinner for all participants.
The assembly ended at 4:30 pm after the closing remarks of the Vice-governor of Kampong Trach and Dorng Tong districts, following by solidarity dinner till 6:30 pm. It is important to note that FNN was established by CEDAC in 2003 during the first assembly in Siem Reap, with the financial support of the German Friedrich Naumann foundation. Currently, more than 1,200 farmer’s associations are members of FNN and it becomes an independent entity.