The agriculture minister reiterated a call for eligible farmers and agricultural players to apply for subsidised electricity from state-run utility Electricite du Cambodge (EdC) to reduce costs associated with the accepted operations.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina made the plea during a November 14 dialogue on electric power use in agriculture, organised at his ministry, after the number of beneficiaries of the subsidised electricity scheme completely failed to live up to expectations since its launch last year.

The event was attended by Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem, Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) chairman Yim Piseth, EdC director-general Keo Rottanak, sub-national agriculture chiefs, and 130 farmers from various associations and cooperatives.

The agriculture minister noted that the government provides the subsidised electricity every day from 9pm to 7am for crop cultivation, animal husbandry, aquaculture and other allied activities, at a rate which Sem confirmed at 480 riel ($0.12) per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

Tina stressed that the scheme would increase savings, which he said would spur economic growth. As an example, he shared that the animal husbandry segment currently consumes about 12 million kWh nationwide per month on average, but pays “about $2 million” or roughly three-sevenths more than it would if fully under the scheme.

He invited farmers to ask the EdC or competent authorities to enrol in the scheme, and instructed officials of agricultural departments nationwide to reach out to potentially eligible people and encourage them to apply.

Speaking at the dialogue, the energy minister commented on the government’s efforts to ensure access to reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity, as well as the subsidies’ bearing on the livelihoods of the people.

Sem recapped that the government has run this and a similar subsidised-electricity scheme for industry since 2021 at the 480 riel per kWh rate, remarking that industry and agriculture are key supports for economic growth.

The minister believes the November 14 dialogue will bolster participation in the schemes, and he attributed the limited number of beneficiaries to low levels of awareness and a lack of understanding of the enrolment procedures.

EdC’s Rottanak shared that the government currently disburses “about $120 million” a year in electricity subsidies to keep prices low and ensure ample domestic supply, which he said greatly improves people’s living standards.

He invited individual farmers, processing enterprises and agricultural actors to apply at the EdC for the subsidies, and called for associations and cooperatives looking to apply to inquire the authorities about their responsibilities.