An integral part of our corporate culture is to donate to charities and causes that are close to the hearts of our employees, including in the communities in which we operate.
The Tahen Project
Applying RFM’s agricultural expertise in Cambodia
In May 2019, RFM committed to providing resources to establish an agricultural project in the Cambodian village of Tahen. Tahen is located in the Battambang prefecture of western Cambodia, approximately 350km north west of the capital Phnom Penh, and RFM’s commitment includes the provision of both agricultural expertise and financial resources to improve farming practices in the village.
Battambang is known as the rice bowl of Cambodia, and agriculture is the main industry in Tahen. In addition, the village is home to a boarding school that provides lodging, food and education for around 120 children, some of whom are orphaned. The agricultural nature of the village, together with the location of the boarding school, make this village an ideal site to benefit from RFM’s agricultural expertise.
The need to fund education and mentoring services here is very high. The standard of education is slowly improving, however the country is still affected by the devastating impacts of the Khmer Rouge regime and the mass genocide that was inflicted on its citizens some 40 years ago.
The agricultural project will be implemented in conjunction with Catholic Mission, which has a permanent presence in the Battambang prefecture. Catholic Mission manages a number of projects designed to improve the standard of living of each community where it operates, with a focus on social engagement and employment opportunities. The common underlying aim of each project is to become self-sufficient after a period of external funding, and consequently deliver a permanent, sustainable improvement to the lives of those involved.
The aim of the Tahen project is to educate local farmers to develop sustainable and diversified agricultural enterprises, and RFM has committed to providing $1 million over three years, as well as ongoing advice and support to achieve this aim.
Improving rice production – Tahen’s main staple
Rice is the main crop grown at Tahen, and one of the key objectives of the project is to increase production by improving farming practices. It is critical to the success of the project that local farmers permanently adopt the updated farming practices and to assist with this aim, some fields are being farmed under the traditional practices, with adjoining fields being farmed with updated practices. This simple, visual comparison generates clear evidence of how updating practices can provide positive outcomes for the village. RFM is directing funds to employ a full-time agricultural engineer, as well as provide access to expertise from a locally based agronomic consultancy firm comprised of two experienced Australian agronomists who are overseeing the rollout of updated farming practices.
RFM’s funding has also enabled structural changes to farming operations, such as farming co-operatively in larger areas rather than operating small individual blocks. The aim is to increase the number of rice crops grown each year and thus the amount of rice produced.
RFM has funded new equipment to assist with the planting and maintenance of rice and other crops. Machine planting has already reduced the seeding rate from 120 kg/ha to 80 kg/ha and the crop is also benefiting from the mechanised application of herbicide and fertiliser. These strategies aim to increase the yield from 1.5 t/ha to 5.0 t/ha.
Other agricultural and community impacts
Previously unutilised land has been planted to forage crops, attracting significant local interest. These crops will be consumed by newly purchased cattle via a cut and carry system. An additional area has now also been planted to legumes, similar to those planted on RFM’s Queensland cattle properties, to increase carrying capacity and weight gain.
Other agricultural operational improvements are planned to benefit existing banana and mango production.
RFM’s management team receive a monthly report outlining project developments and budget reporting enabling RFM to maintain an ongoing and active involvement in the project. By providing education, mentoring, expertise and funding, it is hoped that RFM can provide sustainable economic and social benefits to the community. Opportunities are now arising for locals to provide services, such as laser levelling, to the farm.
Although the structure and funding of this project is designed specifically for the Tahen village, RFM hopes that the lessons of this project can also be applied to other communities.
RFM looks forward to providing ongoing updates to our investors on the key achievements of this exciting project.
Local farmers meeting with RFM.
RFM is proud to be supporting Senior Memories, a program for people with restricted access to social services and entertainment. The aim of the Senior Memories initiative is to enhance the quality of life of seniors who may be socially isolated or living in aged-care facilities and retirement villages.
For more information about ArtSound’s Senior Memories initiative, visit the ArtSound website HERE.
Past community involvement
Other causes RFM has contributed to include Hartley Lifecare Brain Injury Information Service a Canberra-based not-for-profit organisation providing supported accommodation for people with disability, their families and carers, Meg’s Children which operates a children’s home and community outreach program on outer Kathmandu, Nepal, the McGrath Foundation to support a breast cancer care nurse in the Riverina community, and various other donations to community causes where RFM operates.