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Draft law on farmer’s co-ops near completion

Cambodia's first draft law for the regulation of agriculture cooperatives is near completion, and is expected to reach the National Assembly this year, officials said yesterday.

The draft law aims to formalise the Kingdom’s more than 250 cooperatives and provide a framework for those created in the future, officials said.

“This law is important because it is based on the international system that governs cooperatives,” Khem Chenda, director of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ administration department, said.

“Many countries use it to make it easier for farmers to do business,” he said, adding the Food and Agriculture Organisation consulted on the draft law.

Cooperatives allow farmers greater bargaining power with customers and suppliers, and they distribute loans to members who would otherwise seek out microfinance instutions. Cooperatives presently are governed by royal decree.

While Khem Chenda declined to offer much of the draft law’s specifics, as it was not finished, he did say cooperatives would need to register with the Ministry of Agriculture. However, they would not be required to pay taxes or administration fees.

The draft law will be sent to the Council of Ministers before reaching the National Assembly later in the year, he said.

Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture president Yang Saing Koma yesterday emphasised that the law should ensure the continued autonomy of the Kingdom’s cooperatives.

“They have to avoid taking over those cooperatives,” he said.

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