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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The case study chapters of this volume examine four behavioural patterns of local peacebuilders as stated above. They examine how the four types of ownership promotion have been employed in the two areas, focusing specifically on the strategies local actors utilize to develop their unique models of peacebuilding, the distinguishing features of each of these, and their limitations as models of authentically local peacebuilding. This chapter introduces a contrasting approach to ownership development, that entails grassroots peacebuilders’ efforts to reduce the influence from external donors by gaining more financial independence. One popular way is to develop income generation schemes, in which funding sources are sought from collaboration with local communities and their own services for work partners. Moreover, local peacebuilders frequently adopt two types of actions to reduce their over-reliance on a small number of external supporters: diversification of partnership and local coalition building. While these efforts are unlikely to bring about complete autonomy for local peacebuilders, successful examples significantly increase their negotiation power vis-à-vis the demands from external actors, in terms of selecting the programmes to be initiated and those which will continue to operate, and determining operational features.
... 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. ...
This book examines how local agencies in Cambodia and Mindanao (the Philippines) have developed their own models of peacebuilding under the strong influence and advocacy of external intervention. It identifies four distinct patterns in the development of local peacebuilders’ ownership: ownership inheritance from external advocates, management of external reliance, friction-avoiding approaches, and utilisation of religious/traditional leadership. This book then analyses each pattern, focusing on its operational features, its significance and limitations as a local peacebuilding model. This study makes theoretical contributions to the academic debates on the ‘local turn’, local ownership, hybrid peace and everyday peace. Particularly, it engages in and further develops four specific lines of discussion: norm diffusions into local communities, patterns of local-external interaction, concepts of ownership, dual structure of power, and multiplicity in the identities of local. SungYong Lee is Senior Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and is serving as a regional council member of the Royal Society of New Zealand. Dr Lee’s current research mainly focuses on conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding in civil war.
... 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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Commentators have long struggled to understand state-society relations in Asia within the framework of the dominant liberal-democratic conceptualisation of civil society. This article examines the relevance of Antonio Gramsci's theory of civil society for understanding contemporary Cambodia and Vietnam, with reference to both legal and social frameworks. Such an analysis illuminates important aspects of state-society relations in Southeast Asia that tend to be overlooked by dominant liberal and Marxist perspectives. This article argues, however, that the utility of Gramsci's conception of civil society for understanding state-society relations in Cambodia and Vietnam, by retaining the notion of civil society as a realm associatively separate from the state, is limited.
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Presently, there is strong evidence to support the position that development strategies focussing on sustainable agriculture, especially low external input cultivation, are rapidly increasing in influence. Investigating the dialectic of the evolution in ideas and practices for sustainable agricultural development is important for an understanding of how and whether this new “shift” will affect poverty and development. Without risky and poorly-understood investments in agrochemical inputs, many poor Cambodian farmers have been able to achieve increased yields over 100% whilst reducing water consumption by employing the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The promotion of SRI, and its corollary sustainable initiatives, have been hailed as a major success and have seen full integration into national development schemes and international NGO work. Such technology or technique-oriented development programmes often expand into local organising, empowerment and private sector practice. This progression often involves increasingly strict normative prescriptions about how society should be transformed and how this promotes sustainability. Definitions of sustainability, however, tend to be fluid and are thus easily adaptable to new contexts, and easily appropriated to justify various measures. This thesis explores the pathways through which sustainable agricultural programming has transgressed the boundaries of strict ecological sustainability by highlighting the tensions and advantages of the evolving NGO-model of extension, participatory development practice, and socially responsible enterprise. By exploring the agricultural livelihoods of involved Cambodian farmers empirically, and in ethnographic detail, and by analysing the concomitant evolution of organisational discourse and practice, I will show how an initial focus on technical agricultural improvement and poverty-reduction has transformed into grand plans for widespread sustainable enterprise promotion in Cambodia. This has been marked by a shift in accountability that favours a passive, critical mass-based strategy for drawing in previously uninitiated farmers, rather than the grassroots-based micromanagement approach favoured since the inception of rural development programming. I argue that this is symptomatic of the larger convergence of promising sustainable agricultural initiatives upon the reformist, technocentrist and increasingly hegemonic ‘market sustainability’ or ‘developmentalist’ paradigm of sustainable development.
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Abstract Analysts have described conflict between the economically dominant industrial sector of society and the environmental movement as representing competition between two opposing worldviews or social paradigms. There appears to be a similar schism developing in agriculture. The conventional paradigm of large-scale, highly industrialized agriculture is being challenged by an increasingly vocal alternative agriculture movement which advocates major shifts toward a more “ecologically sustainable agriculture.” Some have suggested that alternative agriculture represents a fundamentally new paradigm for agriculture. This paper seeks to clarify and synthesize the core beliefs and values underlying these two approaches to agriculture into a “conventional agriculture paradigm” and an “alternative agriculture paradigm.” The writings of six major proponents of alternative agriculture are compared with those of six leading proponents of conventional agriculture to document the major components of the two agricultural paradigms. The two sets of writings reveal dramatically divergent perspectives on a wide range of agricultural issues. The competing paradigms can be synthesized into six major dimensions: 1) centralization vs. decentralization, 2) dependence vs. independence, 3) competition vs. community, 4) domination of nature vs. harmony with nature, 5) specialization vs. diversity, and 6) exploitation vs. restraint. The emerging controversy over “low-input, sustainable agriculture” (LISA) illustrates the paradigmatic gulf between alternative and conventional agriculture, as well as the pitfalls facing alternative agriculturalists as they attempt to replace conventional agriculture as the dominant paradigm.
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Over the past few years, “Sustainable Development” (SD) has emerged as the latest development catchphrase. A wide range of nongovernmental as well as governmental organizations have embraced it as the new paradigm of development. A review of the literature that has sprung up around the concept of SD indicates, however, a lack of consistency in its interpretation. More important, while the all-encompassing nature of the concept gives it political strength, its current formulation by the mainstream of SD thinking contains significant weaknesses. These include an incomplete perception of the problems of poverty and environmental degradation, and confusion about the role of economic growth and about the concepts of sustainability and participation. How these weaknesses can lead to inadequacies and contradictions in policy making is demonstrated in the context of international trade, agriculture, and forestry. It is suggested that if SD is to have a fundamental impact, politically expedient fuzziness will have to be given up in favor of intellectual clarity and rigor.
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In this paper we review current assumptions about post-productivist agricultural regimes - developed largely within a UK/advanced economies framework - and attempt to answer the question whether the concept of post-productivism can be used to understand contemporary agricultural change in developing world regions. Our analysis is loosely based around six interconnected ‘indicators’ of post-productivism: policy change; organic farming; counter-urbanization; the inclusion of environmental NGOs at the core of policy-making; the consumption of the countryside; and on-farm diversification activities. We argue that the successful ‘exporting’ of the theory of post-productivism to the South relies on shared definitions, meanings and - ultimately - discourses of post-productivism. Although similar patterns can be observed in rural areas of the developing world, there is confusion about the exact meaning of complex agricultural/rural activities. Further, our analysis questions the implied linearity of the traditional concept of the productivist/post-productivist transition. Ultimately, a relative assessment of the shift towards post-productivism would circumvent discursive problems related to definitions and meanings of specific post-productivist concepts and indicators. We conclude by arguing that the notion of post-productivism and the developing world are not necessarily ‘discordant concepts', but we suggest that the concept needs to be adapted and developed to address specific conditions in the rural South, possibly by combining theoretical approaches surrounding the notion of ‘post-productivism’ developed largely from a Northern perspective, and ‘deagrarianization’ from a Southern perspective.
This research examines the relationship between endorsement of agricultural paradigms and reported farming practices. An agricultural behavior index is constructed from measures of pesticide use, source of nitrogen fertilizer, farm diversity, and whether or not people grow a home garden. This index and the individual measures of farming practices are then analyzed to determine how they relate to an alternative-conventional agricultural paradigm scale and several of its items. Alternative and conventional agriculturalists differ dramatically on the behavior index. The scale is more closely related to the composite agricultural behavior index than to the individual measures of farming practices. The major implication is that individuals' agricultural paradigms do impact the way they practice agriculture. -from Authors
La mecanisation et l'utilisation des techniques chimiques de fertilisa- tion du sol d'abord et l'introduction d'hybrides du mais ensuite, ont fini par avoir un effet defavorable sur la qualification des agriculteurs ame- ricains
Modernity promised control over nature through science, material abundance through technology and effective government through rational, social organization. Instead of leading to this promised land it has brought us to the brink of environmental and cultural disaster. Why has there been this gap between modernity's aspirations and its achievements? Development Betrayed offers a powerful answer to this question. Development with its unshakeable commitment to the idea of progress, is rooted in modernism and has been betrayed by each of its major tenets. Attempts to control nature have led to the brink of environmental catastrophe. Western technologies have proved inappropriate for the needs of the South, and governments are unable to respond effectively to the crises that have resulted. Offering a thorough and lively critiques of the ideas behind development, Richard Norgaard also offers an alternative co-evolutionary paradigm, in which development is portrayed as a co-evolution between cultural and ecological systems. Rather than a future with all peoples merging to one best way of knowing and doing things, he envisions a future of a patchwork quilt of cultures with real possibilities for harmony.
Australia recently made a contribution to the development of sustainable rice production systems in Cambodia through the Cambodia-IRRI-Australia Project (CIAP). This paper describes the difficulties faced and progress made in establishing a process through which technologies could be developed and evaluated on a national level. Commencing operations during an environment in which Cambodia was initially politically isolated, research resources and farm inputs were difficult to obtain. Sustainable farming systems technologies were therefore initially based on utilizing locally available products for crop improvement. As the country adopted an open market policy, imported goods become more readily available and these were included in the recommendations. Development of sustainability of other project activities were also pursued. Cambodian researchers were sponsored through higher degrees in Australia and returned to continue the research programs along with their colleagues in Cambodia. An income generation scheme was also developed to assist future operations of the nations new agricultural research institute.
Purpose – This study focuses on consumer choice behavior in the context of a new European Union (EU) member state by examining cognitive, affective and normative mechanisms in consumer preference formation for domestic vs imported products. Design/methodology/approach – Data is drawn from a survey of 714 adult consumers. The research instrument included construct measures adapted from previous studies. The measurement model of domestic consumption was tested via covariance analysis. Once the construct reliability and validities were established, the structural model was evaluated to test the hypothesized relationships. Findings – The findings suggest that affective and normative constructs (i.e. consumer ethnocentrism and patriotism) are stronger determinants of domestic consumption than rational considerations (the cognitive mechanism) such as perceptions of relative product quality of domestic vs imported products. The role of patriotism and cosmopolitanism as factors fuelling ethnocentric tendencies are confirmed. Practical implications – Our results, showing the considerable relative strength of patriotism and ethnocentrism on domestic consumption suggest that managers of local brands and domestic institutions should be able to enhance their communication programs and develop close bonds with their consumers. This finding is an important signal to international entrants in positioning their international offerings, particularly as strong local brands are gaining market share in many emerging consumer markets. Originality/value – In view of emerging transnational groupings such as the EU, this study examines possible consumer resistance to economic integration. It uses realistic data set drawn from adult consumers and focuses on a relatively homogeneous country with a small population allowing for a good external validity of findings.
The critique of modern agriculture has spawned a host of alternatives, collectively known as the alternative agriculture movement. Its critics have been fierce, its proponents zealous. Making sense of the movement is similar to making sense of the original critique-always eclectic, sometimes contradictory, too often romantic, now and then nonsensical, and occasionally brilliant. This review discusses definitions of the alternative agriculture movement, substitutes for pest control, soil management, integration of all aspects of the farming operation, and the problem of conversion of one form to another.
This article argues that certain conditions are crucial to democratic consolidation, and that an imbalance in the power configuration between state and society impedes democratic consolidation. After democracy was introduced, Cambodian elites continued to employ patronage and corruption to advance their interests and strengthen their positions through the provision of benefits to members of their patronage networks. These networks extended throughout and crosscut formal political institutions. The embeddedness of these elements in Cambodian politics prevents democracy from consolidating, because consolidation requires both the establishment and strengthening of vertical and horizontal accountability institutions. Following the introduction of democracy in 1993, there have been new elements of civil society, including most importantly non-governmental organizations, attempting to transform the imbalanced relationship between state and society. However, their efforts have been an uphill struggle, given the unequal power configuration between state and society. The state appears to be strong in that it can silence and oppress government opponents; however, the state apparatus is apparently weak in providing services and ensuring the rule of law. In the meantime, civil society has not acquired sufficient strength to pressure the state to adopt meaningful reform due to its exogenous and endogenous weaknesses. This paper concludes that the sober reality is that civil society cannot really contribute substantially to democratic consolidation until Cambodia has a larger urban, educated population, a larger middle class, and more experience with the idea of non-political "secondary associations," which can build up "social trust" and generate "norms of reciprocity" that deviate from standard patronage networks.
This is the first section of a two‐part article investigating the relationship between civil society and the recent wave of democratization in developing countries. It highlights the ambiguity of the term ‘civil society’ and proposes a definition which may prove serviceable in discovering the political role played by civil society in facilitating or impeding democratization. In addition to the conventional distinction between civil society and the state, the article makes further distinctions between ‘civil society’, ‘political society’ and ‘society’. It specifies several commonly held expectations about the potential political influence exerted by civil society on the character of political regimes and the behaviour of the state, and generates certain historically rooted hypotheses about these relationships. These concepts and hypotheses are intended as an analytical framework to be applied to specific country case‐studies in the second part of the article to follow in a later issue of this Journal.
This article takes the dominant view of a top-down Khmer political culture as its point of departure and explores the extent to which the last decade's political changes have altered the socio-political landscape and triggered the growth of agency in rural areas. In particular, the reform of democratic decentralisation and its integrated ‘soft’ values are scrutinised in fields such as views on local governance, popular discourse on decentralisation, rural NGO activity and the gendering of politics.
The theoretical purview and contemporary political relevance of agro-food studies are restricted by their unexamined methodological foundations in modernist ontology. The nature-society dualism at the core of this ontology places agro-food studies, and their ‘parent’ disciplines in the orthodox social sciences, outside the broad intellectual project that is advancing the greening of social theory, and militates against effective engagement with the bio-politics of environmental organizations and Green movements. The disabling consequences of the erasure of nature in agro-food studies are explored by analyzing several recent theoretical perspectives: the consumption ‘turn’ in the work of Fine, Marsden and their respective colleagues, and Wageningen actor-oriented rural sociology. The merits of actor-network theory in resolving these ontological limitations are then considered using brief case-studies of food scares, agri-biotechnologies, and the recent proposals to regulate organic agriculture in the United States.
This article provides a brief overview of the major switches in rural development thinking that have occurred over the past half-century or so. Dominant and subsidiary themes are identified, as well as the co-existence of different narratives running in parallel. The continuing success of the long-running ‘small-farm efficiency’ paradigm is highlighted. The article concludes by asking whether sustainable livelihoods approaches can be interpreted as providing a new or different way forward for rural development in the future. The answer is a cautious ‘yes’, since these approaches potentially permit the cross-sectoral and multi-occupational character of contemporary rural livelihoods in low-income countries to be placed centre-stage in efforts to reduce rural poverty.
Rice-based farming systems in Cambodia incorporate rainfed lowland rice, dry season rice in some cases, animal production (cattle, pigs, chickens and ducks), fishing (or fish culture) and other activities (such as palm sugar production, vegetable production, wild food collection and trade). Because of the close interaction of these components, a change in any one of them can alter the whole system. The adoption of a modern rice variety (IR66) in the early wet season of the rainfed lowland rice agroecosystem resulted from the interplay of many factors which provided the preconditions that favoured adoption of the new technology. Agricultural innovation was associated simultaneously with adoption (of a product of professional research) and adaptation (by farmers to fit local circumstances) so that emerging opportunities for change could be exploited. The key to this innovation process was experimentation by farmers using novel inputs. Innovation was thus a collaborative process involving sequential learning and social change.
Initial assessments of the potential for organic food systems have offered an optimistic interpretation of the progressive political and ethical characteristics involved. This positive gloss has prompted a stream of critique emphasising the need to explore the ambiguities and disconnections inherent therein. In this paper, we consider the case of Riverford Organic Vegetables,1 arguably the largest supplier of organic vegetables in the UK, and suggest that existing debates assume too much about the “goods” and “rights” of organic food and leave important questions about the spaces and ethics of organic food. We argue that, in the case of Riverford, the space of organic food production and distribution is neither the small, local, counter-cultural farm nor the large, transnational, corporate firm. Rather, simultaneously, the spaces of organic food production and distribution are the national network, the regional distribution system and the local farm. In addition, in the case of Riverford, the ethics of organic food exhibit few grand designs (of environmental sustainability, for example). Rather, the ethics of organic food are best characterised as: ordinary, since they relate to concerns about taste, value for money, care within the family and so on; diverse, since multiple practices steer the production and distribution of organic food; and graspable, in that both vegetables and box have material and symbolic presence for consumers.
"Low external input technology (LEIT) is a prominent feature of many discussions about the role of agricultural technology in rural poverty reduction. There is a widespread conviction the LEIT is more accessible to resource-poor households and can be the basis for human and social capital formation. This paper summarises a recent review of the subject, presents findings on the outcomes of LEIT, and draws more general implications for donor strategies in agricultural technology generation."
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