Saturday, January 16, 2016

Exploring Kirirom

Thol explains mango ripening to Martha.
After a lovely 2 night stay at the farm we started our last morning talking with Thol, the mango broker that KFP uses.  He explained the process used in collecting mangoes and distributing them to the proper customer. His main customers are a Thai importer who sells both fresh and processed mangoes, Vietnamese and Korean fresh importers, and KFP. Sixty days after the trees flower, he goes to the farm and looks at the green mangoes. Depending on the status of each of the individual fruits, they are either sprayed with a fertilizer or a paper bag is put around the fruit to protect it during the ripening process.  Thirty days later he returns to the farm and, if the mangoes still seem to be in good condition, he places a deposit with the farmers in order to secure first access to their crop. He later brings his own harvesting team to the farms to insure quality care and allow for proper sorting.

Friday morning mango walk.
From left: Sok Ly, Elif, Martha, Dalis, Juliana, Mr. Lean, Amruta, Thol, Pros.

A bumpy van ride up the mountain!
From left: Holy, Sok Ly, Martha, Elif, Juliana, Amruta, Margaret
Each country has different specifications on the level of chemicals that is permitted.  Korea has the strictest regulation so most of the mangoes they received are the bag ripened fruits. The Thai and Vietnamese importers prefer a greener mango because the fruit will ripen during shipping.  KFP prefers a mango that is left on the tree longer in order to gain a higher natural sugar content. Additionally, KFP receive delivery of the mango the same day it is harvested so there is less  transportation risk.   KFP is also able to accept mangoes with slight blemishes because that portion of the fruit can be cut out before drying. 

Bungalow picnic.
From left: Pros, Holy, Elif, Juliana, Martha, Amruta, Margater, Sok Ly.
After the meeting, the team along with Holy, Sok Ly, and Pros, the farm manager, went to visit the nearby Kirirom National Park.  It was a beautiful drive up the mountain and at the top we stopped at a popular picnicking spot. When we got out of the van we were greeted by a woman selling flower crowns so we all got to embrace our inner flower child.  After exploring the riverbed we had a Khmer picnic in and open-walled bungalow and relaxed in the hammocks.

Flower crowns and hammocks :)
From the Kirirom region we returned to Phnom Penh.  Dalis informed us that all of the Phnom Penh based employees meet to play soccer at 7am on Saturdays.  Juliana and I decided that we wanted to participate, so bright and early the next morning we were on our way to the futbol field.  There were 16 people there, including Dalis and her 7 year old son, for a fun game largely dominated by 4 people who actually had skills.  The rest spent the hour jogging around, joking, and laughing. Dalis said she organizes it just to get her staff to get up and exercising, and because everyone really seems to enjoy it.  We both had a great time and were pretty sweaty by the end; a morning well spent! Next stop: the Russian Market.
Soccer group, thumbs up from Dalis!

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