THE Asian Development Bank has approved a grant of US$2 million to support rural development and aid agricultural producers in Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kampot and Siem Reap, the group said last week.
The funds, released from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction, will provide training to around 3,000 agricultural producers in post-harvest food handling, storage and processing techniques as a means of boosting rural incomes.
"We hope that the pilot program will be implemented in May and that potential agricultural producers will benefit from such skills as crop processing, marketing and packaging for the demands of the market," Sophea Mar, social sector and poverty officer with the ADB's Cambodian Resident Mission, said Wednesday.
He added that the program aimed to create a source of rural income independent of the primary garment, tourism and construction sectors.
"It is a relevant response at a critical time for the Cambodian economy," Sophea Mar said.
"I think that some of those currently unemployed from garment factories would benefit from the skills offered by our program when they return to their home provinces."
The ADB says up to 30 percent of the rural population still lives below the poverty line, while an estimated 2 million young people are unable to continue schooling or undergo vocational training because of financial constraints.
"The lack of available training, particularly in rural areas, and the country's shift towards more labour-intensive industries, such as garment factories, has left a sharp mismatch between the needs of industry and the skills of new entrants into the labour force," the organisation said in a press release on Tuesday.