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US selects Cambodia as a focus country in food aid programme

THE United States has selected Cambodia as one of 20 countries to receive part of a multi-billion-dollar package to combat hunger by promoting farming and agriculture, government and US officials said Sunday.

The US will funnel at least US$3.5 billion over three years into the “Feed the Future” plan, US Agency for International Development (USAID) head Rajiv Shah said Thursday in Washington.

“Agricultural development is a springboard for broader economic development, and food security is the foundation for peace and opportunity and, therefore, our own national security,” Shah told a symposium on agriculture and food security.

Cambodia is one of four focus countries in Asia, along with Bangladesh, Nepal and Tajikistan.

US embassy spokesman John Johnson said Sunday it was too early to comment on the specifics of the plan.

“Cambodia has been selected as a focus country,” he said. “There will be discussions with the Cambodian government and NGOs, but it’s really too early to speak on the specifics. It’s a huge project.”

He also could not comment on the amount of financial assistance that Cambodia would receive. “Again, it’s still too early,” he said.

Srun Darith, deputy secretary general for the Council of Agriculture and Rural Development, also said he was unsure how much funding Cambodia would receive, but acknowledged that the money would be “very important for Cambodia”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP

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