In December 2009 I left California for South East Asia. The initial plan was to grow hemp with small scale farmers in Cambodia. Demanding hemp as an rotational crop could bring a supplementary income to farmers and with hemp we required that no toxic chemical inputs be added, as Cambodia’s agriculture is drenched in pesticides.
To my surprise, during our first meeting with the National Direcotrate of the Ministry of Agriculture in February 2010, he was quite enthusiastic about the plan to grow hemp in Cambodia. According to him, the crop had a history in Cambodia.
However, like most other good things in Cambodia, it too was killed off during Pol Pot’s dictatorship. The “revolution,” attempted to bring Cambodia back to an agrarian utopia in the mid-1970s. Schools were turned into literal prisons, torture, executions and all. The end result was mass genocide of Cambodian city dwellers, educated and working class (Recommended film: Kumbuchia Death and Birth).
In May 2010, we ventured to Laos to locate seed. After we had located seed, our partner, a Cambodian NGO Administrator got called to deal with some matters. We had to detour our attempt to start the growing in 2010.
In March 2011, we drafted up a proposal for a pilot crop, however, for other reasons, we have decided that this was not the best time to plant the seeds.
Having the pieces of the puzzle to successfully implement the project was not on our side. I had to come to the terms that it was not time to begin in this direction.
Seeing so much poverty in such a country, and so much potential for development with a regenerative resource like hemp, it was a tough hit to the meaning of the effort.
We are still trying to grow as part of the demand for hemp, although not in the manner I had planned when coming back to Cambodia in early 2010. This is not the end of Re3-Generation’s involvement with growers. For now, we will continue to source hemp, some from indigenous tribes in the mountain ranges of South East Asia, as we find other ways to expand hemp production. We are open to the potential of going back to Cambodia, and have some interesting leads for another approach.
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