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Innovating to help rice farmers in Cambodia

Making an impact that matters

Deloitte and Oxfam have collaborated to introduce a hand-operated rice-planting tool which helps increase yields and reduce the labour burden for Cambodian farmers in need.

Innovation doesn’t happen overnight. The environment for it to flourish must be nurtured. At Deloitte Australia we built our innovation strategy over a decade. First, we changed the mindset of our organisation to allow innovation. Then we embedded it as the responsibility of every team. We are now firmly focused on the integration of business and innovation – commercialising ideas to ensure real impact and transformational change for a better society. This way of thinking attracts like minds. It led to us providing pro bono support to commercialise a hand-powered rice planting machine to help small hold farmers in developing countries.

A collaboration between Deloitte Cambodia, our national community partner Oxfam Australia as well as Oxfam Cambodia and the Cambodian Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), the project aligned with a Deloitte Global initiative to foster social innovation and capacity-building in many countries. It also reflects Deloitte Australia’s ongoing commitment to social innovation and our desire to make a positive impact in the international community.

Cambodia’s agricultural industry is changing, with poorer farmers, many of whom are women, facing the greatest disadvantage. Around 60% of Cambodia’s rural population depends upon rice, which in turn makes the crop one of the largest job providers in the country. However, rice farming is labour intensive and crops take a long time to yield. To address this, the Cambodian RUA and Oxfam joined up to develop the hand-operated rice-crop planting machine to increase yields and greatly reduce the labour of planting. This increases farmer profitability, which promotes wellbeing as well as freeing up valuable time for family care. A Deloitte team, combining staff from the Australian and Cambodian firms, worked with the machine’s creators to develop a practical strategy to commercialise this important social innovation. It is just one of the ways our firm has made an impact that matters.