Australia has pledged to provide a 10-year grant of $107 millions as part of its 70th anniversary celebration of its diplomatic relations with Cambodia, mainly to develop the latter’s agriculture and agro-processing sectors.
The grant, provided by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Cambodia-Australia Partnership Programme for Sustainable Economic Development, is broken into two parts – $65 million from mid-2022 to 2027, followed by $42 million for three years, possibly stretching into mid-2030.
In a meeting with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth on March 31, Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang said his government will continue strengthening and expanding its cooperation and support to Cambodia.
Kang explained that the partnership programme has three objectives aimed at enhancing the agriculture sector, trade and investment including raising standards for exports, and infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water, energy and logistics.
Australia has always supported Cambodia in socio-economic development by providing technical and financial assistance in important areas, especially agriculture, infrastructure, education and energy, Pornmoniroth said.
“Additional grant funding will support the development of agriculture, agro-industry, trade and investment in Cambodia. We are striving and are willing to cooperate to achieve more,” he said.
Cambodia Rice Federation president Song Saran told The Post that Australia has helped a lot in the rice sector, especially in the areas of irrigation, quality rice varieties production and rice seed development.
These include the development and refinement of fragrant rice varieties, where it helped to establish the Malys Angkor brand certification and collective trademarks of Sen Kra’op and Sbai Mongkol glutinous milled rice, which will be launched in the near future.
Australia also helped Cambodia to promote its milled rice products on an international platform, such as attending the World Rice Forum and the World Expo in Dubai.
“We have changed the direction of our exports, with the federation focusing on high-quality, fragrant rice exports instead. So Australia has always helped us from planting, farmland preparation to finding new markets.
“In fact, our fragrant milled rice exports not only go to Australia but also other markets, resulting in a significant increase in fragrant milled rice exports,” Saran said.
He shared that Cambodia’s milled rice exports to Australia began to really pick up in 2018 with 7,648 tonnes before rising to about 30,000 tonnes in 2020.
However, pandemic-fuelled transportation challenges and restrictions in Australia caused rice exports to fall to around 9,000 tonnes last year.
Australia is one of 10 major rice markets for Cambodia. Between 2017 and 2021, Cambodia exported a total of 71,005 tonnes of milled rice to Australia, or 2.26 per cent of the total 3.190 million tonnes exported globally over the period.