In a bid to uplift the livelihood of farmers and propel the government’s ambitious export plan, Kao Thach, director-general of the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB), has called on rice mills and milled rice export companies to purchase rice from farmers at market price.

This call to action is of particular interest to farmers and businesses in Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces. Kao expressed fervent hopes of solidarity among rice millers.

“I strongly hope all rice millers would cooperate in solidarity to improve the livelihood of farmers and boost the government’s plans to successfully export one million tonnes of milled rice,” he was quoted by the ARDB.

Assuring continued financial support, he added that the government-backed ARDB would continue to provide loans to rice millers for future harvest purchases.

Encouraging efficient local trade, Kao suggested the establishment of rice markets within the millers’ vicinities. He proposed this as a means to streamline rice purchasing and to reduce associated transport costs.

He further encouraged millers to utilise the ARDB app for quick and easy payment transfers to farmers.

“I request the representatives of rice purchasers for rice mills to pay farmers through the ARDB app, so payments can be easily and quickly transferred to other banks,” he said.

Addressing financial constraints, he motivated millers with limited budgets to seek loans from the ARDB.

“When lacking budget to purchase rice, request for loans from the ARDB. Borrowers simply fulfil the bank’s required conditions or put their rice or milled rice up as collateral,” Kao noted.

In an appeal for unity, he urged all rice millers to express solidarity, eschew competition and collaboratively work to boost Cambodia’s rice sector.

Yang Saing Koma, secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, emphasised the ministry’s role in stabilising prices through contractual agreements with rice mills, agricultural cooperatives and farmers.

“The problems of capital to purchase rice are what we take into consideration. We have encouraged rice millers to take out low-interest rate loans from the ARDB to ensure sufficient capital to purchase rice from farmers,” he said.

The ARDB has been providing loans under a special government scheme designed to stabilise rice prices across various provinces, especially in northwestern Cambodia. In 2022, Cambodia exported $5,000 million worth of agricultural products, contributing 22 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). The success of these efforts hinges on effective collaboration within the rice sector.