Farm loan applications to the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) reached $31 million on Friday.

ARDB director-general Kao Thach said applications for government loans have been growing rapidly since the government officially launched a $50 million fund in March.

He added that as of the second week of the month, applications from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increased to 288 or $31 million, of which more than $4 million had already been approved.

“We encourage and call on our farmers to hurry and file applications for this programme in case they need to expand their business,” said Thach.

Most applications from small businesses focused on animal husbandry, fish, vegetable growers and fruit, in line with the government’s policy of boosting local production, he said.

“Credit under the government’s special financing scheme will enable SMEs in the agro-industry to expand production to strengthen competition and reduce imports from abroad.

“I would like to request to fish farmers, livestock raisers and vegetable growers to make clear plans to grow to meet the market needs in a sustainable way to reduce imports from neighbouring countries,” he said.

Entrepreneurs can borrow from $10,000 to $300,000 to expand their business.

In a press release issued last month, the government said it has decided to reduce the interest rate from six per cent to five per cent per annum for working capital and from 6.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent for capital investment, free of service charges.

The government also decided to adjust the maximum credit period from five to seven years for the capital investment, said the statement.

At the same time, SMEs that are not officially registered can also apply for credit, requiring that the registration is completed within one month of receiving a loan.

Thach said at a signing ceremony with Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank late last month that the ARDB could receive some parts of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s $300 million financing, which will allocate additional financing to support and play a catalyst role to boost growth in key sectors during and after the Covid-19 crisis.