A film based on the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS) funded project “Large Scale Land Acquisitions in Southeast Asia” (Graduate Institute, Geneva; Geneva Academy; Centre for Development and Environment, Bern).

During the summer of 2013, the SNIS team joined the project researchers in Ratanakiri, in northeastern Cambodia, and met the principle protagonists: Jarai farmers concerned about loosing their land, local medium sized companies involved in rubber tree plantations, Khmer in-migrants and local authorities.

The reportage addresses the topic of the current rubber boom and how it affects livelihoods and food security through the voices of the local population. It further raises the question as to how the local community takes part in the process of the agrarian transition driven by large scale rubber companies and to what extent it can benefit from the transformation.

“Rubber in a Rice Bowl” tells the story of Cambodian farmers in a time of rapid change.

Technical Specs

34 min, in Khmer & English with English subtitles.

Team Bios

Helena ZiherlHelena Ziherl holds a Master degree in International History and Politics, obtained at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. She is the Programme Manager for the Swiss Network for International Studies, where she is responsible for the day-to-day management of research projects and the content of various SNIS produced short films. Helena has worked and travelled extensively, including volunteering in an orphanage in Guatemala during her world tour in 2010, and working closely with NGOs in Southeastern Europe.



Reto SteffenReto Steffen studied at the Geneva University of Music where he obtained a Master of Arts in music theoryHe is the IT & Multimedia Manager for the Swiss Network for International Studies where he has produced various short films about SNIS funded projects and awards. He is also the co-owner of RoadMap Media a multimedia production company with which he has created videos for the University of Geneva and the Small Arms Survey.



Christophe GirondeChristophe Gironde works at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva as a senior lecturer in development studies; his main courses are agrarian transformation, human development, poverty and poverty reduction. He is also the deputy-director of the Master in Asian Studies (MASPEA). With a background in development studies, the process of agrarian change and socio-economic differentiation are core to his research. He has developed his expertise through extensive fieldwork, mainly in Vietnam and Cambodia and previously in Central Africa. His recent research addresses the process and consequences of large-scale land acquisitions. He is the coordinator of the SNIS project Large-scale land acquisitions in Southeast Asia, which inspired the movie Rubber in a Rice Bowl.



Amaury Peeters Amaury Peeters is a Bio-engineer specialised in land use planning and holds a PhD in Agricultural Sciences from the Université catholique de Louvain (UCL). His research interests concern rural development issues combining cartographic and socioeconomic approaches. He has extensive field work experience in both rural Cambodia and Vietnam. Based in Cambodia, his recent research activities at the Graduate Institute of Geneva in the framework of the SNIS project Large-scale land acquisitions in Southeast Asia include the spatial analysis of large-scale land acquisitions and the socioeconomic consequences of the related agrarian transformations on farmers. He has also developed a drone aerial images expertise and has contributed to various MadeinMars productions.




Directors Helena Ziherl, Reto Steffen, Christophe Gironde
Editors Reto Steffen, Helena Ziherl
Research Christophe Gironde, Amaury Peeters
Interviews Helena Ziherl
Camera Reto Steffen
Drone aerial footage Amaury Peeters
Translation Suon Seng
Narrator Helena Ziherl
Site design Reto Steffen

Special thanks to

The people interviewed in Ratanakiri

Chay Keartha

Olivier de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

LICADHO (Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights) for their map on land concessions grants – Aerial View Solution