Background of COrAA
The Cambodian Organic Agriculture Association (COrAA) is a nationwide private sector organization working for the promotion of organic agriculture in Cambodia. COrAA is unifying organizations and individuals in Cambodia that are active in organic farming, processing, marketing, trading, and any kind of support to organic agriculture. A strong motive for establishing COrAA was also to have a domestic organization where Cambodian stakeholders, especially those from the private-sectors take leadership in promoting organic agriculture in Cambodia (in contrast to a rather donor-promoted organic agriculture movement).
COrAA was founded in 2006 with the support from Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery and Ministry of Commerce and includes currently nine member institutions (companies, farmer cooperatives and NGOs active in organic agriculture). COrAA provides already services to its members such as technical advice for the conversion from chemical/conventional to organic farming, marketing support, organic awareness building, lobbying and providing in general a platform for dialogue and cooperation of organic stakeholders in Cambodia. In addition, COrAA developed both organic and chemical-free agriculture standards and provides third-party-certification to those producers following these standards.
COrAA’s mission is to provide producers as well as consumers in Cambodia with an alternative to conventional (chemical) agriculture by enabling farmers to escape from poverty through production of healthy food products that can be
successfully marketed both domestically and internationally. This will eventually provide Cambodia with the reputation of being a “Green Garden of Asia” with high quality and healthy food.
- Assist farmer in the conversion from conventional to organic agriculture.
- Raise awareness on environmental, economic, social, and health related benefits of organic production.
- Support marketing of Cambodian organic production in the domestic market as well as the international markets.
- Set standards for organic and chemical-free farming of its members in order to assure a trust worthy organic supply for consumers in Cambodia (Producers can apply for the inspection of their production sides; they obtain certificates issued by COrAA when they have complied with these standards).
- Issue the certificates for products of organic and chemical-free for domestic markets.
- Support Cambodian producers and traders of organic agricultural products in the dialogue with government, donor organizations and international organic agriculture movement.
- Provide and disseminate information on organic agriculture and organic products to farmers and consumers.
- Share information, findings, and experience, in order to improve the quality of members’ organic production and/or processing.
- Encourage relevant research and the development of organic agriculture.
- Identify sources of support and funding for farmers and SMEs, for the conversion from conventional to organic agriculture, and facilitate member’s access to them.
- Encourage a stable and safe supply of organic foods for domestic consumption
COrAA is currently supported by the International Finance Cooperation (IFC) and European Commission. During the startup, the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) supported COrAA.
ORGANIC GUARANTEE SYSTEM FOR CAMBODIA
Guiding farmers, traders and food processors as well as consumers, the founding members of COrAA developed “Standards for Organic Crop Production” and “Production Standards for Chemical-Free Crop Production”. These provide the basis for COrAA’s inspection and certification scheme. Only farm products, which have been certified by COrAA, may be labeled “Organic “or “Chemical-free” respectively.
The certification allows consumers to appreciate the distinct quality and to be confident that the farmers have strictly followed the principles stated in the standards. As a result, the standards provide an instrument to offer clarity and to build up trust in chemical-free or organic products.
Producers wishing to comply with the organic standard should convert their whole farms to a sustainable organic farming system. They may not use
any chemical fertilizer or other chemical substances such as pesticides and fungicides. Fertilization and crop protection must follow organic procedures as outlines in the standards. After a conversion period of three years, a farm can be certified as organic.
Producers who cannot or do not want to convert their entire farm, can avail of a “chemical-free” certification. During the cropping season, the application of any chemical substances such as fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides on the prospective ‘chemical-free’ crop is not allowed. On other plots of the farm, agro-chemicals may be used, with the exception of highly toxic pesticide. Products from farmers complying with above standards will receive the COrAA label for Organic or Chemical-Free products respectively. Consumers can easily recognize the two different labels.
To ensure that farmers and member organizations comply with the standards, COrAA has set up a harmonized control system. In the case of smallholder production, farmer’ groups or associations follow the Internal Control System (ICS). Trained internal inspectors check every farm several times during the growing season and verify the adherence to the standards. If necessary, they carry out re-inspections of farms. After receiving a positive report, COrAA will issue a one-year certificate to the operators (farmer, farmer-group, NGOs or company). This certificate enables the producer or the group to market their products using the COrAA labels.