Ockenden Cambodia team in Ratanakiri province participated from 23-25 January 2015 in the provincial NGO trade fair, co-organized by the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and ANNADYA NGO operated in the province.
Ockenden facilitated to bring about 25 key community representatives (15 women) from CBOs in two target districts- Lum Phat and O’Chum to participate in the event and brought agricultural produce and indigenous handicraft products from their communities to present and sell at the event.
At the official start of the event, the Provincial Director of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the government gave his opening speech to welcome all participants in the event. The participants included indigenous community representatives, government officials and NGOs representatives and public. He stressed the important promotion of agricultural produce, products and culture of indigenous people and encouraged the indigenous producers to produce to meet the demands of the markets both quality and quantities. He also proposed to all government‘s counterparts including NGOs to provide capacity building on organic farming techniques to the indigenous farmers and advised the farmers to use all available materials in farming, appealing to the farmers not to use chemical materials (fertilizer and insecticides). He also took this opportunity to brief about negative impacts or consequences from the use and consume the chemical products which were costly, harming health, lives and the environment as a whole.
After that a provincial NGO representative presented in summary the relationships between natural resources, agricultural production and health care/education. All the three elements had close inter –dependence with one another and should be maintained in a balancing eco-system.
The next official from the Provincial Department of Agriculture explained to the participants about the main roles and tasks of three subordinate offices of the Provincial Department of agriculture: Office of Animal Husbandry, Office of Agronomy and Office of Legislation. He said that these three offices opened for cooperation with all government’s counterparts and encouraged relevant actors to approach to them for cooperation.
The Provincial Governor inaugurated the NGO trade fair. During the gallery walk, the Provincial Governor and many national and international came in person to visit Ockenden stores and expressed their strong interests on the indigenous handicrafts: baskets; traditional household items, like ‘Smock’ (a small bamboo box for keeping cooked rice) or ‘Doun’ (a kind of household item made of bamboo and used for steaming rice); hand weaving scarfs; traditional white wine; gourds for water storage; varieties of upland rice seeds, soy bean and cassava roots/tubers; vegetables (like ‘Pakrief’); agriculture brochures and books. At Ockenden stores, these guests discussed the process of the produce and products undertaken by the indigenous people and put questions directly to the indigenous representatives for explanations and understanding. Through this stores, they were able to show their identity, products and indigenous culture to these important competent figures for possible interventions and future support.
In order to build stronger relationships and collaboration with these quests, Ockenden team also provided brochures and books related to community development, organic agriculture and natural farming to them.