Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Some millers are exploiting desperate farmers: Sokhon

Some millers are exploiting desperate farmers: Sokhon

Agriculture Minister Veng Sokhon has accused private sector rice millers of exploiting desperate farmers. Photo supplied
Agriculture Minister Veng Sokhon has accused private sector rice millers of exploiting desperate farmers. Photo supplied

Some millers are exploiting desperate farmers: Sokhon

Agriculture Minister Veng Sokhon accused private sector rice millers of exploiting desperate farmers, arguing that if they really lacked capital to purchase rice paddy as they claimed, they would have been quick to snap up the government’s $27 million emergency loan package.

Speaking yesterday at a meeting between government and private sector rice industry leaders, he said the loan package offered in September had failed to stop the flood of rice paddy into Vietnam.

“Despite the fluctuations in rice prices, it is not the main issue for why farmers are exporting paddy,” he said. “I suspect that the issue with the rice industry is not external, but rather the genuine unwillingness of millers to help our farmers.”

Sokhon said the $27 million loan package was designed to give local millers sufficient operating capital to purchase local rice paddy, and to beef up their storage capacity. However, only $1.5 million of the package has been disbursed to just a handful of applicants.

“What is the main issue weighing down the rice sector? Is it really a shortage of capital?” the minister said incredulously.

Sokhon announced that Prime Minister Hun Sen has approved an additional $15 million loan package solely for developing rice storage and warehousing capacity. But he cast doubt on the willingness of rice millers to respond.

‘We really need the loans’
Kao Thach, CEO of the state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB), the institution in charge of disbursing the emergency loans, said it was incomprehensible to him why millers were reluctant to apply.

“We provide a fast and easy loans and it is not complicated,” he said. “I have no idea why we are in this situation if rice millers were really facing a shortage of capital.”

Sok Puthyvuth, president of the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF), said that the sector needed time to ensure that once millers took the loans they would be used effectively and transparently.

“We are trying to work together in order to use the budget transparently,” he said. He argued, however, that the 7 percent interest rate attached to the loan was too high and should be lowered.

“We really need the loans from the RDB, but the interest rate should be less than what commercial banks offer,” he said.

Sokhon retorted that as an “emergency” loan, there should be no excuses for a delay and that the CRF should sort out its budget transparency issues as soon as possible.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia's cluster cases jump to 259

    The Ministry of Health on February 27 recorded 26 more cases of Covid-19 linked to the February 20 community transmission, bringing the total to 259 in one week. The 26 include three Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. The ministry noted that five of the Chinese