The state-owned Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) will disburse an additional $30 million in loans to help rice millers purchase paddy during the upcoming harvest season at the end of the year.
ARDB director-general Kao Thach told The Post on Sunday that the added funding aims to assuage concerns among millers stemming from a lack of capital as they gear up to buy the crop in November-December.
“As per the plan, we will release the loans in November to coincide with the harvest season of the Sen Kra’op and Phka Romduol paddy varieties. We hope the funds will help rice millers buy more paddy from farmers,” he said.
Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Lun Yeng welcomed the move, which he noted comes following the CRF’s petition to the ARDB earlier this year.
“We appreciate the government for releasing more loans, which will enable rice millers to buy more paddy.
“With nearly everyone [rice millers] suffering from capital shortages, we are merely borrowing supplementary capital in response to the rice export market situation. If the market is weak, we won’t take a gamble applying for more loans,” he said.
Khy Chhaiwatt, the general manager at the Battambang province-based Amru Rice Mill, noted that the additional funding comes at a time when rice millers need capital the most, but called for audits to be conducted on the loans to root out potential abuse.
He said the recent flash floods had led to severely diminished rice harvests in Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces in the Kingdom’s northwest corridor.
“Some rice mills are facing flooding in Banteay Meanchey province, and if much more paddy is damaged, it will seriously jeopardise the agricultural sector during this period,” he said.
Data from the National Committee for Disaster Management show that flash floods have affected nearly 65,657ha of rice crop as of Thursday, predominantly in Pursat.
According to Thach, the government has so far disbursed nearly $200 million in loans to help address capital shortages in the Kingdom’s rice sector.
“I would like to call on rice millers to continue to help buy paddy from farmers affected by the flash floods at reasonable prices, even if some of the paddy is damaged. They need the income to pay for day-to-day living expenses and for agricultural fertilisers,” he said.
The Kingdom earned more than $328 million from milled-rice exports in the first nine months of this year, surging 10.43 per cent from the $297 million raked in last year, the CRF reported.
Shipments of the crop reached 488,785 tonnes during the period from January-September, gaining 22.62 per cent from the 398,586 tonnes exported in the same period last year, it said.