Representatives of Cambodia’s rice sector and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) met yesterday with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to discuss the implementation of a five-year program to promote the Kingdom’s agricultural products.
The Accelerating Inclusive Markets for Smallholders (AIMS) initiative will allocate $85 million toward the development of 10 different sectors of the country’s agriculture industry, according to Hun Lak, vice president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF).
“The project will focus on promoting farming products first in local and then in international markets,” he said. “The budget will be used to improve Cambodia’s agricultural productivity as well as to provide the technical skills, production capacity, packaging facilities and the capital to bring these products to market.”
Starting next year and running until 2022, the AIMS project will support producers of meat, vegetable, fruits and rice products. IFAD has pledged to contribute $45 million to the project, while the MEF will provide $8 million. The remaining funds will be obtained through private sector investments, Lak explained.
“If the plan progresses well, we hope that it will help a lot of farmers and promote greater economic growth,” he said, adding that the project’s details would be finalised on September 8.
Cambodia’s agricultural sector already benefits from significant amounts of aid through IFAD programs. The NGO’s initiatives have a combined budget of $100 million.
Yang Phirom, business adviser for the Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture (CEDAC) and chief executive of Cambodia Farm Enterprise (COFE), welcomed news of the AIMS project, but warned that IFAD needs to work with the appropriate institutions to maximise its success.
“This is a really good project for developing the agricultural sector, but we need to make sure that those involved work with the organisations that have a good understanding of the market issues and the challenges facing farmers,” he said.
“The government should also guarantee retail prices for farmers otherwise they will give up their jobs in the farming industry.”