Loan applications to the state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) reached $37 million on Thursday since it announced the launch of a $50 million emergency fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on March 16.
ARDB director-general Kao Thach told The Post that the bank has received 350 loan applications since the government launched the fund. More than $10 million in loans have been approved.
He said: “Fish and animals farmers have applied for the most loans, follows by vegetable growers.
“These lacklustre approval figures are a consequence of slow document processing in some areas, which held back the overall approval procedure.”
He said the loan scheme would allow SMEs in agro-industry to expand their businesses and enhance their production lines, aiming to hone their competitive edge and reducing imports from neighbouring countries.
“We will continue to invite and encourage those who need capital to expand their business to file for loan applications under our one-of-a-kind scheme,” said Thach.
A farmer from Banteay Meanchey province, who declined to be named, said he is considering applying for a loan to expand his cultivation of Australian red-claw crayfish.
He said the crayfish – also known by its scientific name Cherax quadricarinatus – has become a highly marketable commodity, with a price of $30 per kg.
“I am interested in borrowing money from the bank because of the low interest rate. I have just started crayfish farming and have more than 4,000, and I want more capital to raise even more,” he said.
The ARDB currently offers loans ranging between $10,000 and $300,000.
The government in May decided to cut the annual interest rates from six to five per cent for working capital and from 6.5 to 5.5 per cent for capital investment, without service charges.
Thach said at a signing ceremony with Wing (Cambodia) Limited Specialised Bank late in May 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.