The state-run Techo Startup Center (TSC) has set up the Digital Agricultural Supply Chain Platform (DASCP) in a move to promote productivity of enterprises, economy and younger generation in rural areas and advance poverty reduction and food security.

The TSC is based in the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) on Russian Federation Boulevard (Street 110) in Tuol Kork district’s Teuk La’ak I commune in the capital and is operated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Speaking at a workshop on Wednesday, TSC digital technology coordinator Dr Ty Makararavy said the digitalisation of the agricultural sector offers a major potential boon to the economy through increased productivity, cost efficiency and market opportunities.

She said the platform also purports to transform communications across value chain actors, enabling inclusivity, and to optimise the use of resources as well as to adapt to rapid change.

The TSC will shore up the DASCP through the Khmer Agriculture Suite (KAS) of digital applications for the rural economy, which comprises an open digital platform, a Challenge Fund and an outreach campaign, she said.

TSC’s role in the Sustainable Assets for Agriculture Markets, Business and Trade (SAAMBAT) project is to invigorate the burgeoning rural economy through digital technology and improve agricultural products’ access to the market, she added.

SAAMBAT was launched on February 3, financed by a $53.3 million loan and $1.2 million grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a $57.6 million loan from European Investment Bank (EIB) and $12.41 million in contributions from the Kingdom, the IFAD said.

The five-year project, in partnership with the finance ministry and Ministry of Rural Development, will run from 2020 to 2025. It aims to boost incomes and food security for 200,000 families in the Kingdom.

Dr Makararavy said TSC teams are working on the DASCP to collect, pre-process and analyse data and formulate predictions via the KAS and other sources through means of automation and semi-automation to serve the basis of future innovative applications.

She said the KAS is an open digital platform for agricultural value chains that harnesses the power of emerging technology and innovation to address core challenges in productivity and distribution.

She added that the KAS is satellite-based and is developed under different service providers. Its applications (KAS-Fresh, KAS-Market, KAS-Kontra, and KAS-Book) will share data with the core platform.

“It will help to promote rural infrastructure, skill development, enterprise development and digital technology,” Dr Makararavy said.

TSC start-up development specialist Khoeurn Saksonita added that the Challenge Fund will provide grants to start-ups in digital agriculture value chains to encourage development and testing of innovative digital applications.

“It is provide digital literacy, encourage the adoption [and use of technology,] and link innovators to value chain actors [farmers, traders, and entrepreneurs],” she said.

The DASCP is also a partnership with commercial partners in the private sector for the roll-out of applications linked to the KAS, she said. “We will cooperate with private partners, with key chain actors and with start-ups to solve product and distribution issues.”

It is also an ecosystem for research, building digital resilience for agricultural value chains and the identification of value chain actors’ concerns and needs, which aims to shape a favourable digital landscape, Saksonita said.