Agriculture

Organic rice from Cambodia

AMRU Rice: doubling production every year

AMRU Rice produces organic rice in Cambodia for export. Since its foundation in 2011, the company’s output of fair trade organic rice has doubled every year. Its owner, Saran Song, plans to go on doubling production until 2020.

Organic rice Cambodia

Rice is known as the ‘white gold’ of Cambodia. The average person eats 150 kilograms per year and over 50 per cent of the population works in rice production. In 2015, over 9 million tonnes of rice were harvested, putting the grain top of the country’s produce list.

Organic rice Cambodia

Producing rice in a more professional way and for export represents a major opportunity for Cambodia. More funding is needed for investment in warehouses in the growing regions, improvements in production efficiency and training for farmers.

Organic rice Cambodia

Saran Song, owner of AMRU Rice, and the Technical Assistance unit of responsAbility teach farmers the knowledge required for organic certification. In the training programmes, they learn to produce their own organic fertiliser and how to use it properly.

Organic rice Cambodia

Saran Song achieved an MBA and worked for several NGOs before realising he could have a major impact by setting up his own company. Saran Song is supported by his wife Muny Khy, managing director of AMRU Rice.

Organic rice Cambodia

Despite the company’s rapid growth, every year, the demand for organic rice in Europe covers the amount of rice produced by AMRU Rice – right down to the last grain. AMRU Rice plans to double its production every year until 2020.

Organic rice Cambodia

Saran Song’s sense of urgency drives his company’s exponential growth. “Without responsAbility,” he says, “I wouldn’t be able to sustain such a fast pace.” Anshul Jindal, Senior Investment Officer at responsAbility, (right) helps Saran Song maintain his pace and keep him in check.

Organic rice Cambodia

2013 saw the first harvest of Saran Song’s contract farmers, who produce rice for him exclusively. Today, the organic rice grown by these farmers is processed and fairly traded by AMRU Rice.

Organic rice Cambodia

The AMRU Rice biggest production facility in Kampong Thom: Saran Song founded AMRU Rice to improve the lives of economically disadvantaged rice farmers. He exports organic rice, which is more lucrative thanks to the bigger margins.

Organic rice Cambodia

Ongoing inspections of organic rice is crucial. Saran Song pays farmers far more than they’d previously received for their harvest. One of the conditions for this is organic certification. The contract farmers who work for AMRU Rice never use pesticides or GMOs.

Organic rice Cambodia

Rice farmers earn 15 to 75 per cent more when they produce for AMRU Rice. They use the extra money they’re earning to invest in increasing their productivity, buying tools and small tractors, or sending their children to university.

Organic rice Cambodia

The harvest in November and December takes two, or at most three, weeks. This presents the farmers with a major organisational challenge. 

Organic rice Cambodia

The grains of rice are dried in the sun for 2 days and are then transported to AMRU’s regional warehouse, which is run by a large cooperative.

Organic rice Cambodia

104 rice farmers have joined forces to form the Samakee Rohas Meanchey Cooperative, one of 18 cooperatives that supply AMRU Rice. They have been producing organic rice for AMRU Rice since 2014.

Organic rice Cambodia

The busy rattling of machines can be heard at the Samakee Rohas Meanchey Cooperative.

Organic rice Cambodia

Saran Song recently expanded his portfolio and opened a separate factory to produce products such as rice noodles and rice paper. For these products, he can buy rice from farmers who don’t meet, or haven’t yet achieved, the premium standards for organic rice.

Organic rice Cambodia

Working with Anshul Jindal (pictured) and other members of the responsAbility team, between 2017 and 2019, Saran Song will be investing 5 million US dollars in building mass storage for organic rice as well as drying, milling and processing facilities near the farms.

Investment Case AMRU Rice Cambodia

Read how AMRU Rice plans to double its production every year until 2020 in the complete ‘Organic rice from Cambodia’ case study. 

Read how AMRU Rice plans to double its production every year until 2020 in the complete ‘Organic rice from Cambodia’ case study. 

Read how AMRU Rice plans to double its production every year until 2020 in the complete ‘Organic rice from Cambodia’ case study.