Farmers are compensated for implementing more sustainable agriculture practices and avoiding deforestation and wetland clearing with a guaranteed high premium on rice.
Communities in the forests and wetlands of northern Cambodia rely on rain-fed paddy or upland rice fields for food and income security. However, increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns are jeopardising the stability of these livelihoods. This challenge is compounded by poor water retention in soils as a result of unsustainable agricultural practices and a lack of quality seeds tolerant to changing climate conditions. Thus, the IBIS Rice approach was introduced in 2009 in three provinces in northern Cambodia. The program provides farmers with higher quality traditional rice varieties and incentives for avoided forest and wetland clearance. More precisely, farmers are ensured a 40% premium above market price on their rice. Further sustainable agricultural practices have been introduced including the planting of cover crops to improve soil fertility and water retention.
Although not reported, it is likely that avoided deforestation could contribute to climate change mitigation at a small scale.
To respond to increasingly unpredictable agricultural yields, 1,400 households have reportedly been given high-quality seeds that can be replaced in the case of flood or drought. Additionally, green manure crops were planted on more than 800 hectares of farmland reportedly improving water retention and yields.
A decrease in natural resource and landscape exploitation by forest clearing and hunting has been observed. Farmers participating in the IBIS Rice project are reported to be four times less likely to clear areas of forest for agriculture than other farmers.
Households participating in the IBIS Rice program have reported increased annual earnings and rice surpluses. More precisely, the average annual earnings of program participants in the time period between 2015 and 2017 more than doubled as compared to the period between 2009 to 2011.