Thanks in part to a Winrock-implemented project in Cambodia, a rice bank is benefiting — and, indeed, helping to nourish — rural households in the Southeast Asian country at times when food is scarce.
The Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR), a local partner of the Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) program, has created a rice bank in the village of Teng Mao in Svay Rieng province on the border of Vietnam and Cambodia. The bank will provide rice at an affordable cost to its 60 members during periods of food shortage. Additionally, the initiative increases livelihood options for villagers and responds to the needs of rice producers. Often, at the end of harvest season, when the most underprivileged families no longer have rice to sell, they are forced to migrate or to take their children to beg in Vietnam.
“The rice bank is a good response to people’s needs as the majority of villagers work in agriculture,” says Chuth, a cashier at the rice bank.
Community members themselves are responsible for the day-to-day business of the rice bank, creating further ownership of the initiative. Members who borrow rice to feed their families will pay 10-percent interest on what they borrow and will have to show the rice bank committee that a need exists. Borrowers then have one year to return their share of rice to the bank. If a borrower does not have enough rice to repay the loan, the debt can be can repaid in cash instead of rice, at a lower-than-market price.
The rice bank deeply involves the community as a whole. Indeed, some villagers contributed funding, some provided wood for building the rice container, and others helped with construction. The community managed to collect a total amount of 2,000,000 Riels (USD $500) for its construction. Chuth, the bank cashier and chief of the CTIP-supported Self-Help Group of the village, provided the use of his land for the bank.
The rice bank container was completed in January 2015 and, one month later, villagers were able to purchase approximately 15,000 kg of rice, mostly from its members, in time for the bank to open.
The Counter Trafficking in Persons program is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is implemented by Winrock International.