RealSolutions™: Capax World Agri-Communities
Manzimvula is working in several partnerships establishing RealSolutions™ to real world problems, to support impact projects in multiple countries where needs have been clearly identified. One project of note is our work in partnership with Capax World to design and develop Agri-Communities to be implemented in Cambodia by Capax World and its partners.
The project involves creating multiple autonomous, diversified farming communities of between 10-250 farms each (40-1,000 hectares), to produce a diverse variety of organic produce using the permaculture model. The vision of the program is 'Cambodians feeding Cambodians'.
How you can help
Forward this email to anyone you know who can contribute to the project, provide resources, or provide funding. You can also go directly to Capax World and make a contribution on their site for the project through PayPal.
We are business people who endeavor to make real contributions, using our business expertise, networks and resources, to the benefit of disadvantaged and developing communities. Having done work in the region, the combined team have been involved in Cambodia and other Asia Pacific countries for over 20 years now. We chose Cambodia as a starting place for this project, but continue to do other community-focused work in South Africa and elsewhere.
Because poverty spans the developmental areas of food, energy, water, education, health and infrastructure, we made an exploratory visit to rural Cambodia with Capax World in March 2016 to develop an approach that would be effective there. With the help of Capax World's Cambodia team, we realized that a well-designed agricultural program would have the greatest impact on poverty alleviation by addressing all six developmental areas, and would provide the greatest impact on local employment/revenue and health/nutrition. The result was the development of Capax World 'Agri-Communities,' in which collectives of smallholder farms generate more local jobs and revenue than traditional local smallholder farms, through greater crop diversity, new (to Cambodia) agricultural technologies, alternative energy generation, assured water sourcing, education, infrastructure development, and supply chain integration, all rooted in a sustainable, organic, permaculture model. The sustainability of this model is expanded further through water conservation and a reduced carbon footprint, as imported foods are replaced by locally-grown produce.
The program will develop networks of homestead farms with high produce production capacity, through improved inputs and technology, crop diversity and farmer education. The focus is on poor and vulnerable farming families, and the impact is poverty alleviation through increased farm revenue and local job creation, as well as improved nutrition for farmers and consumers via substantial production of nutrient-rich, organic produce and livestock.
The technologies include permaculture and organic principles; water management & conservation; automated drip irrigation systems with moisture sensors; installation of a clean energy microgrid for each community; agricultural, business and entrepreneurial education; and aquaponics for each homestead for increased protein consumption. We anticipate the project having a cross-generational influence, as the technologies and supply chain integration attract the interest of young people and encourage them to pursue careers in agriculture.
Capax World Agri-Communities will include community-owned entities for processing, packaging, transportation, delivery and sale of the produce and products into the market. The farmers earn revenue both through the sale of produce and livestock into the Agri-Community entity (‘ACe’), and through the profitable operation of the ACe by experienced managers, salespeople, processors, etc.
Agri-Communities participants will include farmers in the homestead farms developed by Capax World, as well as other regionally co-located farmers who wish to participate and are willing to contractually guarantee that they will utilize organic methods and meet Capax World Agri-Communities' quality standards.
Our risk mitigation strategy includes choosing crops and livestock based on local demand, utilizing crop and location diversification to spread risk of crop failure, pooling farmers' interests to 'self-insure' the collective against failure of a particular crops, structuring a long-term lease arrangement (to a holding company with hard title to the land) to ensure the longevity of the farms, applying strict quality control standards, incorporating guaranteed water sources (primarily wells) for all farm communities, and consulting with local agricultural supply chain experts to effectively structure crop selection, delivery to market, and pricing.
Capax World Agri-Communities are designed to be financially sustainable: They will generate enough income not only to remunerate the farmers and supply chain participants, but also to repay the initial investments made by Capax World and its partners, over 10 years, to enable the development of other farm communities and programs. Initial funding is anticipated to include both donations and impact investment funds, the latter being repaid with interest. Part of the success of the project lies in the low cost of capital, in contrast to the higher interest rates that smallholder farmers incur with private lenders if they wish to borrow capital for expansion. As investor funds are repaid to investor partners, donated funds will be returned to Capax World, to continue improving lives in Cambodia's poorest communities. The increase in Agri-Communities participants' income after this 10-year payback period can be utilized for their own expansion efforts, thereby continuing to increase local employment revenue and alleviate poverty.
Each community will have an education centre in which farmers and their families can learn new skills, including organic farming techniques, permaculture principles, sustainable farming and business, circular production and economic models, personal development, and other skills to establish, maintain and grow their Agri-Communities.
The goal is to establish and successfully operate one or more pilot communities before expanding Capax World Agri-Communities into other provinces in Cambodia.
By giving poor farmers the tools they need to increase production of nutrient-dense, organic vegetables, fruit and livestock ('Cambodians feeding Cambodians'), Capax World Agri-Communities will produce not only better nutrition, incomes, supply chain and infrastructure, but also fulfillment, as people lift their families and communities out of poverty.
Want to hear more about the impacts of this project? Stay tuned for our next installment.
Published in Our Ideas