Mobil Rice Mill
Update on the Moringa Project.
As you will recall, in Fall 2016, we wrote to you about Mark’s visit to Prey Veng Province in rural Cambodia in September of that year. At that time, he had meetings with our long time local development partner to discuss how to continue providing economic opportunities to our farmers in this somewhat remote area of Cambodia.
Once such possible collaboration involved a small moringa processing and distribution company in Phnom Penh which was looking for a reliable supply of organically grown moringa leaves. Moringa is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals and its antioxidant properties are believed to prevent or inhibit cell damage, making it a popular dietary supplement in many regions of the world.
The agreed plan called for the moringa company to contract with our farmers to purchase a minimum quantity of moringa leaves each month. With that guaranteed market for their leaves and their ability to access water with the wells which we provide to them, the farmers could have confidence to convert some of their fields to plant moringa.
Adding moringa to the fruits and vegetables that we have historically encouraged our farmers to plant on their homestead land ( the land that immediately surrounds their houses), we expected that the farmers could get a significant boost to their cash incomes while further diversifying away from dependence on the single annual crop of rice that is the mainstay of farming in Prey Veng. The program had and still has the potential to be a real " game changer" for our farmers by boosting their incomes.
The agreement which we made with the moringa processor/markerter to buy our farmer’s organically grown moringa leaves, would in the initial stage, include about 50 farmers and create an estimated increase in annual cash income of roughly $750 per farmer.
In the early years, the program generated great excitement among our farmers and many joined a waiting list to be included in the program. However, the processor’s early projections of demands for his product proved to be too optimistic as commitments that he had received from a couple of large foreign buyers evaporated and the local market for moringa products became saturated due to the arrival of a number of new competitors.
Unfortunately, at the end of 2018 the processor was forced to cut back on purchases from our farmers and in early 2019 it became clear to us and to our farmers that the processor would not be able to honor the initial purchase commitments. In mid-2019, we suspended the program pending finding a new and more reliable partner or the ability of our initial partner to recommit to his purchase commitments.
Like many efforts in life, the moringa programs shows us that there is not always an immediate straight line to success. However, although the moringa project is currently on hold, we continue to support our farmers, as we have done for since our RAP program began in January 1999, with education and training to improve their knowledge and skills and by doing so, help our farmers to raise crop yields and promote the organic farming techniques have literally transformed this area and successfully contributed to the continued increase in farming incomes over the past 20 years . Your support of this program has ,over these many years, continues the transformation this area to a new green belt supporting chemical free farming.
One final note, the truck that you see in the pictures is a mobile rice mill which travels the country roads and hulls rice for small farmers. We thought you might find it interesting to learn more about some of the services that our farmers utilize.
Again, we appreciate your support of our efforts to bring self sufficiency and responsible land use to this rural area.
Barbara & Mark Rosasco
Mobil Rice mill from another angle
Farming Family next to their home