Oxfam Supports A Space For Commercialisation In Community Agriculture Projects
Oxfam, Deloitte Australia and Cambodia, and Oxfam partner RACHANA meet with an agricultural cooperative in Takeo Province to learn how new machines can benefit community rice production. Photo: Sarah Jane/Oxfam
Oxfam has engaged the private sector in Australia and Cambodia, Cambodia’s Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), and local NGOs, in a project intended to reduce the labour required for rice farming in rural communities.
Though in the preliminary stages, Deloitte Australia, in conjunction with Deloitte in Cambodia, have joined with RUA to establish a commercialisation strategy for a rice transplanting machine.
With funding from Oxfam, RUA is developing a tool to ease the physical labour required to plant rice seedlings, with the desired outcome including sustainable access for farmers to a working machine, made by local producers.
Oxfam Country Director Solinn Lim said "this three-way partnership between Oxfam, Deloitte and RUA is a good example of key development actors leveraging on each other’s differing strengths with a common goal to provide disadvantaged smallholder farmers affordable access to sustainable agriculture and livelihoods."
“Deloitte Australia and Deloitte Cambodia consider it a privilege to be working jointly with Oxfam in Cambodia, Oxfam Australia and the Royal University of Agriculture on a project which we hope will make a real impact to smallholder rice farmers across Cambodia,” Frank Kelloway, a Senior Partner of Deloitte Australia who led the mission in Cambodia, said.
Input from Deloitte will provide the technical expertise to implement a project with a market based approach, expanding from Oxfam’s previous focus on produce production.
“The commercialisation strategy will extend the reach of RUA’s research and product, to positively impact as many farmers as possible who are struggling with the lack of available labour.
“With gender at the heart of all Oxfam programming, the challenge for the team is to ensure that this rice transplating machine is female user friendly,” Solinn said.
The rice transplanting machine test results show the hours, physical labour, and seeds used in planting will be significantly lowered while producing the same, if not a higher, yield.
Oxfam will support local partner RACHANA to demonstrate the use of the machine to communities and provide technical advice about the tool that aims to supplement the labour shortage in the agricultural industry.
RACHANA works to increase livelihoods of poor families in Takeo province and assisted a knowledge sharing field visit for Deloitte and Oxfam on June 21 to each level of the potential supply chain.
Project Manager Mr Dara Cheng said the field trip encouraged the private sector to learn from the farmers about the supply and demand of new mechanisms and the rice produced.
“The farmers need an instrument to replace the labour force traditionally required for rice cultivation as there is increased migration from the villages,” he said.
A conclusion from the agriculture cooperative and serving group visited is the machine would be most beneficial in a community association,rather than individually owned, to increase use, decrease cost and increase potential jobs if labour could be hired with the machine.
The commercialisation plan will be developed in the coming weeks as RUA focuses on improvements to the prototype so it can be manufactured as efficiently as possible by local producers.
Text: Communications Intern Sarah Bell/Oxfam