Agricultural agency hopes to address a shortage of mills
Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON
A rice farmer near Phnom Penh. A Cedac-funded initiative aims to raise farmers’ incomes by extending loans for rice mills.
A LOCAL agricultural association announced last week it will invest US$100,000 to build 10 new rice mills, providing the industry with much-needed processing capacity.
Yang Saing Koma, president of the Cambodia Centre for Study and Development in Agriculture (Cedac), said the rice mill shortage has cut into farmers' profits by compelling them to sell paddy at lower rates and purchase expensive milled rice to feed their families.
Under the proposed investment plan, Cedac will fund the new rice mills in five target provinces - Kampot, Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kampong Cham and Takeo.
"The farmers will not have to sell paddy to buy milled rice, and their incomes will increase," Yang Saing Koma said.
He added that the new milling operations would also create jobs for rural youths.
The development funds will be distributed in the form of low-interest loans to provincial farming associations, officials with the project said.
Cedac owns three rice mills in Kampot, Kampong Speu and Takeo provinces that produce more than 400 tonnes of milled rice per year, but demand still outstrips supply.
Uon Sophal, head of the Kampot Farmers' Community and a participant in last week's congress at the Japan Culture Center, said Cedac has also sponsored other initiatives that boost Cambodia's low agriculture sector incomes.
Diversifying boosts profits
Uon Sophal said one such initiative helped his community to eliminate fertiliser use and diversify its output by raising pigs, chickens and ducks.
Part of the community's savings - about $7,500 - has been collected to build a new rice mill in Kampot province's Dang Tong district that he hopes will further raise incomes.
"We have finished about 20 percent of the construction, and we expect to complete the project by the middle of this year," Uon Sophal said.
Ros Mau, 51, a farmer in Takeo province's Tramkak district, said his community developed plans to build a new rice mill after vendors reduced their purchase price for paddy.
"We hope that Cedac will provide us with a low-interest loan to build the mill this year," he said.