In Cambodia, most people (some 80%) are rice farmers. Rice farming, in Cambodia, is very labor intensive, and requires cows for plowing the fields. If a family does not own their own cows for plowing a field, they have to rent them from another family. The rental cost is usually 50% of the harvest. That means if you do not own your own cows, you automatically will lose 50% of your potential harvest. If we just gave a cow to a family though, they would likely sell it for cash. So we decided we would not sell the cows to the family, but we would loan it to them to use. The initial cow always remains the property of “Cows for Cambodia”. We would then pay the family an “annual fee” for taking care of our cow. That annual fee is the offspring for the year. Native cows in Cambodia are highly resistant to disease and have a calf every year like clockwork. Therefore, they get to use the cow free of charge, then they can keep their first calf for themselves. The second calf (second year) we keep as a “usage fee” for the use of our cow for two years. The third they keep, fourth we keep, and on and on. The asset keeps growing and the benefit to the people keeps growing.
Wheat and rice look quite similar and have similar properties. Another unique aspect is that both wheat and rice have counterfeits as well. The “tares”. In the Cambodian language it is called “song-gnie”. It looks very similar to rice when growing, yet when it turns harvest time it is more than clear what is rice and what are tares. One you can eat, the other has no nutritional value. One has value, the other is worthless.