The World's Best Rice from The World's Poorest Farmers
The World's Best Rice from The World's Poorest Farmers
AwardBest You get The World's Best Jasmine Rice, and poor Cambodian farmers get The World's Best Price. Everybody wins! :-)
AwardBest You get The World's Best Jasmine Rice, and poor Cambodian farmers get The World's Best Price. Everybody wins! :-) Read more
Three reasons to pledge:
- You get The World's Best Rice™;
- You get to help The World's Poorest Farmers; and
- You get a great excuse to paaaaaaartay!
...and now, the details.
AwardBest™ Cambodian Jasmine Rice is best rice you've ever had — guaranteed.
Ever since Cambodian Jasmine Rice first entered The Rice Trader's international "The World's Best Rice™" competition in 2012, Phka Rumduol™ — a variety of Cambodian Jasmine Rice — has won every year: an unprecedented three years in a row (2012, 2013, & 2014).
Cambodian Jasmine Rice is so good that even the Honorary President of the Thai Rice Exporters Association — whose members sell almost all of the jasmine rice imported into America — said in 2014 that “Honestly, Cambodian fragrant jasmine rice nowadays, the quality is somehow better than Thai." (That's like having McDonalds say, "Burger King's Whopper is better than our Big Mac.")
It's not a subtle difference that only gourmets can appreciate. It's like champagne vs. Two-Buck Chuck, or Two-Buck Chuck vs. grape juice. Fresh Cambodian Jasmine Rice, of the variety Phka Rumduol, is WAY better than any rice you've had before. You will be amazed.
Phka Rumduol is so highly prized in Cambodia that, until now, it has not been available in America at any price. I'm fixing that, by delivering Phka Rumduol directly to your door.
However, solving that problem wasn't challenging enough...so I solved another problem, too. :-)
Preserving Jasmine Rice's Special Flavor, Fragrance, and Tenderness
The special qualities of jasmine rice — its flavor, fragrance, and tenderness — are due to a rich and complex blend of naturally-occurring aromatic compounds. (That's true of coffee, wine, truffles, chocolate, and vanilla beans, too, by the way.) The high concentration of these aromatic compounds is what differentiate "jasmine rice" from "plain rice." (For details, see The Science of Jasmine Rice).
However, under typical packaging, storage, and shipping conditions, the concentration of these aromatic compounds — and hence jasmine rice's special flavor, fragrance, and tenderness — fades away very quickly after harvest. By the time jasmine rice reaches America, its special quality is half gone. Within six months of harvest, it is nearly all gone, leaving — in effect — "plain white rice."
Lower-quality jasmine rice varieties can produce two or even three harvests per year, but the highest-quality varieties, like Phka Rumduol, produce only one (in November).
So, how can I guarantee Phka Rumduol's "world's best, harvest-fresh" quality year-round?
Simple: by quick-freezing it to lock in its flavor, fragrance, and nutrition. Then we store it deep underground beneath Kansas City, Missouri, in former limestone mines that have been converted to super-stable "deep freeze" storage. From there, AwardBest can deliver it to your door, conveniently thawed and ready to cook.
You’ve seen this before, with frozen veggies. Fresh veggies that are quick-frozen in the field — within an hour or two of being picked — have better flavor and nutrition than the never-frozen “fresh” veggies that take days or weeks to reach your neighborhood supermarket. Similarly, taste tests have shown that quick-freezing jasmine rice, followed by deep-freeze storage, preserves its “harvest-fresh” flavor, fragrance, and tenderness for at least a year.
A two-pound (2lb) bag — the only size AwardBest currently offers — holds about as much rice as the typical American household cooks in a month. Just put the uncooked portion in your refrigerator (not in your freezer!) until it's gone...and then order more, harvest-fresh from our deep-freeze warehouse.
The best place to store AwardBest rice is, of course, in your stomach. Yum! I can always send you more. ;-)
Between quick-freezing and deep-freeze storage, I'm pretty sure that I've solved the First World Problem of providing "world's best, harvest fresh" jasmine rice, year-round, to American consumers.
However, another problem is crying out to be solved: the poverty of the Cambodian farmers who grow The World's Best Rice.
The World's Best Rice...from the World's Poorest Rice Farmers
The shocking truth is that The World's Best Rice is grown by some of The World's Poorest Farmers. Many of them are earning only two or three dollars a day — less than $1,000/year! — despite growing The World's Best Rice.
Yet the solution is surprisingly simple: pay farmers more for their rice.
Not by setting some kind of "minimum price" for rice (a strategy that failed miserably in Thailand recently), but by increasing the price that consumers choose to pay for it.
This is demonstrably effective. According to a recent report from The World Bank, the single factor that has lifted more Cambodians out of poverty, over the last decade, has been a global increase in the price of rice. The report concludes that Cambodia can't rely on another such "global" price increase.
However, a "global" increase in the price of everyone's rice is not necessary for Cambodia's development.
All that's necessary, to lift even more Cambodians even higher out of poverty, is:
- An increase in the price of Cambodian Jasmine Rice, and
- An increase in the volume of Cambodian Jasmine Rice that is sold at that higher price.
Cambodian farmers already grow The World's Best Rice! They just need a little help spreading the word... which is what this KickStarter campaign is all about.
With your pledge, AwardBest can pay Cambodian farmers "The World's Best Price for The World's Best Rice." Establishing a high price for quick-frozen ultra-premium Cambodian Jasmine Rice can give other Cambodian exporters more flexibility when setting their own retail prices. That could raise the average price of all Cambodian Jasmine Rice — not just the rice from AwardBest — thereby helping all Cambodian rice farmers.
For more details, see Regional Development via Ultra-Premium Cambodian Jasmine Rice.
In addition, once AwardBest is selling rice online (via Amazon), I expect to invest "a buck per bag" of those online sales (but not of KickStarter pledges, due to KickStarter's "no charitable donations" rules) to help Cambodian farmers get new skills and certifications that can help them get their rice into high-priced retailers such as Whole Foods Market.
Earlier this year, I drove the addition of Phka Rumduol to the international Fair Trade system — but I need to organize international expertise to accelerate the pace of change. I have already corresponded with The Rotary Foundation on this. The Foundation's Growing Local Economies focus area, combined with its Global Grants program, seems to provide exactly the local access to international expertise that is needed.
After this is successful — due in part to your pledge! — I will work with:
- The Rotary Foundation
- At least one local Cambodian Rotary Club (Battambang and/or Pursat, where Phka Rumduol is grown), and
- At least one local Cambodian NGO (perhaps Bareebo and/or Sustainable Cambodia, respectively)...
...to help Cambodian rice farmers attain the skills and certifications (such as Fair Trade, Organic, Food Safety, etc.) that can help them sell more of The World's Best Rice at The World's Best Price. That's where "a buck per bag" will be invested.
If you happen to know any Rotarians, please share this opportunity with them. This is the kind of "helping hand, not hand-out" project that Rotarians (like me!) love to support.
Hang in there, Gentle Reader — you're almost done. :-)
I've shown, above, how your pledge helps solve two problems:
- a First World Problem: Making "world's best, harvest fresh" jasmine rice available to American consumers for the first time.
- a Third World Problem: Helping lift more Cambodian farmers even further out of poverty (i.e., more than $2/day).
However, I'm a great believer in The Rule of Three, so let me describe how your pledge can solve a third problem: the Dinner Party Problem.
Solving the Dinner Party Problem
Need an excuse for a dinner party? Want to show off our awesome intellect, your breadth of knowledge, your refined palate, your open mind, your social conscience, and your generosity of spirit, all at the same time?
Host a rice-tasting party!
Invite your friends to bring whatever rice they already have in their pantries. Cook samples of each — and samples of your new AwardBest rice, of course! — and have everyone rank the samples. Post the results on your Facebook page. After the KickStarter campaign ends, look on AwardBest.com for step-by-step instructions for hosting a proper "blind" taste-test.
If Amazon's customer service does not address an incident to your satisfaction, please email help@AwardBest.com describing the incident, and I'll jump right on it.
That's my pitch.
If you've read this far, I hope that you're as excited as I am. Your pledge won't cure cancer, bring World Peace, or stop climate change... but it will bring you some truly awesome rice, help some people who truly need your help, and give you a pretty darn good excuse for a party.
I gotta figure: that's not bad for twenty bucks.
I hope that you agree, and pledge today! :-)
...and, while you're at it...pledge a bag for your mother, too. Doesn't The World's Best Mother deserve The World's Best Rice? You can pledge a bag for her now, to be delivered on the date of your choosing — her birthday, or perhaps on Mother's Day (May 8th) — gift-wrapped, and with your personal message. Give her an excuse to brag about how thoughtful you are! :-)
I expect to have Amazon handle delivery & returns, so AwardBest's guarantee will be, at minimum, Amazon's A-Z Guarantee — a very solid money-back guarantee. If that proves to be insufficient for any reason at all, email help@AwardBest.com, and I'll jump right on it.
How will your pledge money be spent?
Your pledge will enable me to:
- Cover the lodging, meal, transportation, and other expenses I will incur when fulfilling the "tour guide" pledges;
- Send Christmas Cards to the recipients of Christmas Gift pledges;
- Buy the very highest-quality Phka Rumduol paddy rice (with the aid of a trustworthy and experienced local buyer that I know), paying farmers an unusually-high price for it;
- Pay a reputable rice miller (that I know) to mill the paddy into ultra-premium, top-grade rice;
- Vacuum-pack each two pounds of milled rice (a) in robust, food-safe material that can withstand freezing, and (b) in a rectangular shape that can slide neatly into a US Small Flat Rate Box (with a little room to spare);
- Label each two-pound package in accordance with the requirements (a) of the US government, (b) of my logistics suppliers (internationally: The OEC Group; domestically: Fulfillment By Amazon [FBA]), and (c) of good design sensibility (which I must outsource, as I have none);
- Pack the bags into "case pack" cardboard boxes (each filled box weighing just under 50 pounds), sized to pack with maximum efficiency into a 20-foot refrigerated container;
- Label each filled box as needed by my logistics suppliers;
- Quick-freeze the filled boxes;
- Load the frozen boxes into a refrigerated (frozen) container;
- Get all necessary certifications, customs forms, bills of lading, and other export/import documentation (outsourced to The OEC Group plus either Control Union or TÜV Rheinland);
- Transport the container by land to a suitable port;
- Load the container onto a US-bound ship;
- Unload the container from the ship in a US port and get it through US Customs (via the OEC Group again);
- Transport the container from the US port to an underground cold storage facility beneath Kansas City, Missouri, operated by FrozenFulfillment;
- Transport the pledged bags to FBA's nearby logistics center (in Lenexa, KS) for domestic distribution (such that your bag arrives at your door conveniently thawed and ready to cook), noting which bags are to be delivered where, which bags are to be gift-wrapped, which bags are to bear personal messages (and the messages), etc.;
- Keep delayed-delivery bags in cold storage until they are transferred to FBA in time for delivery on the scheduled delivery date;
- Keep any "extra," un-pledged bags in cold storage until someone buys them online;
- Make enough profit (a) to pay myself a modest shareholder dividend, and (b) to do it again next year, at somewhat larger scale, without needing any additional funding;
- Do the many other things that entrepreneurs must do, that somehow never manage to appear on lists like this. :-)
See AwardBest's Trademarks page to learn which trademarks, used by AwardBest on KickStarter or elsewhere, are owned by whom.
Risks and challenges
AwardBest is a US company ("AwardBest USA, LLC"), which intends to buy consumer-packaged quick-frozen rice only after it is on a US-bound container ship.
Sounds easy, right? It's not. Cambodia's infrastructure, culture, and economy were devastated by three decades of civil war. Although Cambodia has recently turned a corner, and is poised growth in many areas, I'm pushing the envelope of what's possible in Cambodia today. The many flaws in the project's video are trivial but obvious examples of this.
However, I've always thrived when riding the cutting edge of what's possible. From technology marketing to music theory, I thrive when pulling deals together on the cutting edge. If none of them ever failed, I wouldn't be pushing the envelope hard enough, right? But this one feels like a winner to me.
And this time, it's "winning with a purpose:" Not just solving the First World Problem of "making 'world's best, harvest fresh' jasmine rice available to American consumers for the first time," but also helping solve the Third World Problem of raising even more Cambodian rice farmers even further out of poverty. Now, that's a worthy challenge! :-)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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