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Cassava in focus of Green Leader, UN deal

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Farmers transport their freshly harvested cassava along a road in Banteay Meanchey province last year. Heng Chivoan

Cassava in focus of Green Leader, UN deal

Hong Kong-based Green Leader Holding Group and the United Nations Development Progamme (UNDP) signed a cost-sharing agreement on Thursday to implement an $800,000 project on accelerating the cassava market.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak presided over the signing of the deal which established a project that will span nearly three-and-a-half years and see $500,000 injected by Green Leader and $300,000 by the UNDP.

The project will mainly work to develop the value chain in the eastern provinces of the Kingdom.

Green Leader is currently overseeing the construction of a $20 million cassava processing factory on 20 hectares in Kratie province’s Snuol district.

When complete, the factory will have the capacity to produce 100,000 tonnes of tapioca a year – a haul that would require 400,000 tonnes of raw cassava from local farmers.

Green Holding CEO Michael Tse said the country’s cassava sector is showing potential.

“We are eager to help industrialise the sector by establishing processing facilities throughout the country to produce value-added products such as cassava starch and modified starch, to be exported to markets in Asia and Europe,” he said.

The company plans to spend $150 million on 10 processing facilities over the next three years.

“Our first processing plant in Kratie is expected to be completed and commence trial production on or before the end of December,” Tse said.

The new agreement seeks to establish a contract farming scheme whereby farmers will be able to secure buyers for their crops.

Cassava is being grown on 600,000 hectares in the Kingdom with an annual production of over 14 million tonnes.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with UNDP on the Accelerating Inclusive Cassava Market Development project, which aims to extend agriculture services and assistance to help local farmers improve their cassava yields and thus their livelihood,” he said.

He said the project gave farmers the option to sell their crops on the domestic market instead of exporting them to Thailand or Vietnam.

UNDP country director Nick Beresford said the cost-sharing agreement reflects a solid commitment to support the transformation of the cassava sector.

“It will bring greater income to cassava farmers,” he said.

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