Sustainable Cultivation of A Rare Crop

Driving Fair Organic Pepper Production Traceability in Cambodia​

In 2015, Norbert Binot founded Fair Farms in Kampot, a province in the Southwest of Cambodia. He focused on the sustainable cultivation of Kampot pepper, a rare type of pepper protected by a geographical indication that grows in Kampot province. Fair Farms’ mission is to produce and source 100% organic Kampot pepper while ensuring fair working conditions (e.g., adequate salary, health insurance, etc.) for local smallholder farmers.

“As compared to all other peppers, whose total yearly production is 450,000 tons, Kampot pepper’s is only 150 tons,” Norbert Binot, Fair Farms founder and Farmforce Global Sales Director, said.

Producing about 7 tons of their Kampot jewels, the company caters to European importers who are working towards the achievement of the Ecocert Organic Standard (EOS). Based on this regulation, the crop must be cultivated without adding any chemical or synthetic pesticides. In addition, when it comes to nitrogen-containing organic inputs such as animal manure, EU regulations allow for a maximum annual loading of 170 kg/ha. Aside from complying with the EOS, some of Fair Farm’s customers are also Fair Trade-certified.

Accordingly, it’s crucial for Fair Farms to monitor farming activities such as fertilisers’ application. To add to that, because of the rising appetite for this high-value crop, one of the major issues faced by the company was to safeguard Kampot pepper trade against fraud. Speaking both farmers and IT lingo, Norbert was the right profile to showcase the potential of our food’s first mile traceability software.

A More-Than-Fair & Scalable Audit Assistant

Since 2021, when Fair Farms started using Farmforce to record their agricultural inputs, Ecocert audits became a piece of peppery cake. Having all the farm-level data in one place, they could promptly retrieve them and share them with their auditors.

“Farmforce makes our organic and Fair Trade certification process so much easier and faster. The ease of implementation and training keeps scaling up constantly possible,” Norbert said.

Besides protecting the environment, Fair Farms helps importers access certified organic pepper, thus strengthening their market position. While their cooperative currently includes 10 smallholders, Fair Farms believes that extending the implementation of our software for farm management would be totally feasible.

“The scalability of Farmforce would make it exactly the same if were working with 50 or 100 farmers,” said Norbert.

Low-Effort, High-Yield

Another key point raised by Fair Farms is that our food tech can work offline. And that’s a game changer in Kampot, where connectivity is a digital mirage. On top of that, the company recognised our agricultural supply chain software to be user-friendly. In fact, despite having little to no education, Fair Farms’ collaborators did not experience any trouble when dealing with our digital tool. To make it even easier for local people, the software interface was translated from English to Khmer.

While requiring minimal efforts, our supply chain visibility software allows Fair Farms to have a big impact on pepper value chain sustainability. By harnessing Farmforce’s polygon feature, Fair Farms can measure the plot size of each farmer. Consequently, once forecasted a yield per unit of surface, they can estimate smallholders’ quota, which is the maximum amount of organic certified Kampot pepper they can sell. Checking farmers’ deliveries against their relevant quota, Fair Farms flags any potential sale of uncertified pepper, thus reducing fraud risks for importers.

“This pepper is way more expensive than any other pepper that you’ll find. So, there’s obviously some interest to buy pepper from other areas, get it into Kampot and sell it as Kampot pepper,” Norbert said.

Some (Green) Pepper-Uppers For The Future

As suggested by Fair Farms, digitising farmers and knowing their yield expectations could have a broader scope, as it would also help the Cambodian government improve traceability in their food supply chain and track their production targets. Additionally, while the land managed by Fair Farms’ is not linked to any ongoing deforestation, Farmforce polygons would let importers and/or authorities to spot any forest clearance in other regions of Cambodia driven by the expansion of crops like pepper as well as rice, cashew and cassava.

“Deforestation today is at the heart of the discussions that are happening at the government. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Cambodia committed to maintain at least 60% of the country’s forest by 2030,” said Norbert.

Climate change mitigation is increasingly becoming a top requirement in the agricultural sector, Fair Farms highly recommended Farmforce to introduce a module that enables them to monitor the carbon sequestration potential of their shade trees and soil.

At Farmforce, food’s first mile is our passion. Our SaaS solutions provide organizations with the confidence to secure sustainable sourcing, improve farmers’ quality of life and protect the environment. We turn data into tools, which means more vetted acres, more measurable impact on communities, more financial opportunities for farmers, and more clarity for customers. We believe in building a better food supply where it starts. Farmforce customers span 28 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. With over nine years of experience now managing over 735,000+ farmers in 27 crop value chains in 15 languages on our platform. A continuous loop of innovation with our customers in the center of food’s first mile journey. 

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