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Competitive discourses in civil society: Pluralism in Cambodia's agricultural development platform

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The paradigmatic debates surrounding differing development goals and agendas occurring internationally are inevitably played out in developing countries. This chapter focuses on how socio-technical paradigms embodied in certain development discourses are instrumentalized in civil society initiatives and led to compete with each other on the ground for legitimation by both the public and the state. In Cambodia, the civil society 'representatives' of global movements or powerful international institutions are often large, charismatic organizations that follow externally provided archetypes of issues such as gender, agriculture, justice and the environment. Due to their international roots, these organizations typically view their respective initiative (i.e. their development discourse) as sufficiently universal and paradigmatic to be enshrined countrywide – a goal which is often only attainable through widespread endorsement or even absorption by the state. Civil society, in this case, is thus seeking to bridge the 'gap' in state– society relations by filling the political and technical space between the family and the state in order to develop into a national project. 1 As a suggestive case in this chapter, I focus on the paradigmatic contest between proponents of alternative and mainstream (or green revolution) agricultural development.

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... It is difficult to accurately identify the figure for the farmers whom the organisation has supported or whose interests they have represented as their programmes have aimed at different target groups and offered support of different natures.. For instance, its (CEDAC, 2006(CEDAC, , 2009Feuer, 2014;Hiwasa, 2014). ...
... It also developed working relations with product processing companies, who wanted good quality ingredients. Its marketing strategy, which appealed to people's patriotic sentiments and branded ecological agriculture as a modern and progressive mode, enabled CEDAC to secure a more stable market (Feuer 2014). In addition, CEDAC offered new services to support the It should be acknowledged that such income generation programmes do not always go as local peacebuilders hoped. ...
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... It also developed working relations with product processing companies, who wanted good quality ingredients. Its marketing strategy, which appealed to people's patriotic sentiments and branded ecological agriculture as a modern and progressive mode, enabled CEDAC to secure a more stable market (Feuer 2014). In addition, CEDAC offered new services to support the members' agricultural business, which included introducing crop insurance and linking farmers with low-interest investment schemes. ...
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... NGOs such as CEDAC, which has gradually started to generate funding via its work for sustainability and has generally been quite successful, also falls into this category. Others have been absorbed into the government (Feuer 2013), while others transformed into private consultancy firms (such as the Economic Institute of Cambodia and Cambodian Economic Association). ...
... She wrote, "This chapter presents women's groups as 'artificial' seeds of CBOs that not only advance women's participation in the public and generate local civil society but also provide stepping stones to national engagement" (Hiwasa 2014: 149). Importantly, while saving groups are non-political and hence do not pose tangible demands on authorities for accountability, Feuer (2014) claims that well-performing groups already have indirect influence, Lukes' (1974) power to set the agenda: ...
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