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Japanese grants set to aid local farmers

08 casava
Farmer is prepareing cassava to plant in a farm in Kampong Speu Province. Photograph: Sorn Sarath/Phnom Penh Post

The Japanese government has provided $118,996 for constructing a cassava propagation and distribution centre in Battambang province.

The fund comes in response to the recent challenges facing farmers in the province who are facing a shortage of cassava trees to plant.

Kumamaru Yuji, Japanese ambassador to Cambodia, said the grant was given to the University of Battambang yesterday for installing two autoclaves of 50 and 150 litres, one clean bench, and the construction of two screen houses, with a capacity of 300 square metres, and for the acquisition of 600 square metres to breed virus-free cassava.

“This project is expected to improve cassava cultivation productivity, which will contribute to an increase in income for about 1,150 farmers in rural communities,” he said.

Touch Visalsok, rector of the University of Battambang and a recipient of the grant, said the fund came in time to construct a centre that is crucial for supplying disease-free and high-yield cassava planting materials to farmers – and not only in his province.

“Recently, cassava production has been threatened by the rapid spread of pests and disease,” he said.

“The production losses, estimated at 20 to 30 per cent, have been proven to significantly affect the incomes and rural livelihoods of small-scale cassava farmers.”

According to Visalsok, cassava has become the second most important crop in Cambodia, with the area of its cultivation having increased to 400,000 hectares in 2011.

Meanwhile, grants were also given to three other projects yesterday: 99,800 went to a project for improving drainage systems in O’Tavao area, Pailin province; $91,121 was given to the Project for Rural Development of Sambo district, Kratie province; and the Project for Improving the Capital Drainage System in Preah Vihear received $105,422.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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