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ARDB calls for assistance to rice farmers

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Some farmers face labour and equipment shortages leading to a decline in harvest collections. Hong Menea

ARDB calls for assistance to rice farmers

The Agricultural and Rural Development Bank of Cambodia (ARDB) has called on authorities and volunteers to assist farmers in rice harvest.

In its November 29 appeal, the bank said while some farmers are collecting aromatic rice and jasmine rice in time, farmers in other areas face labour and equipment shortages leading to a fall in harvest collection and subsequent decline in rice prices.

According to the ARDB, farmers lack combine harvesters due to demand. The situation has led to a three-fold harvester price increase over last year.

If the situation continues and shortages prolong, rice will be overripe and lose its quality and prices will decline.

ARDB officials called on local armed forces stationed near farms to help harvest rice immediately to ease the potential economic pitfalls.

“[The ARDB] would like to call on combine harvester operators not to raise prices and please maintain the same fees. The bank hopes members of the armed forces and youth volunteers will join in solidarity to ease the difficulties of farmers,” it said.

Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman Srey Vuthy could not be reached for comment on December 1.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said on December 1 the call was to get parties on board to respond to the problem.

“The ARDB working group should work with local authorities at this time to help farmers in an expression of solidarity.

“We welcome this call. Over the years we have helped farmers who lacked the ability to collect rice. We’ve helped harvest rice with our own hands,” he said.

Phim Sreyleak, a representative of farmers in Kampot province, said some farmers there are gradually collecting rice. She said some were able to hire tractors or combine harvesters while others lacked the ability to do so and still used hand labour force, threshing rice stalks with their own hands and using cattle to transport rice stalks.

“I would like to call on relevant authorities to help stop the decline in rice prices when farmers collect rice yields. I also ask combine harvesters not to raise fees too much because in Kampot, the fees have been raised to 400,000 riel ($99) per hectare while last year it was only 350,000 riel,” she said.

Theng Savoeun, director of the NGO Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC), said on December 1 that if there are only calls without preparing management systems to help farmers, the authorities still cannot help solve their problems in a timely manner. They should help intervene in the prices of rice and machinery to collect rice yields.

He said authorities must prepare a strategy to encourage or impose conditions on owners or rice mills and brokers who receive loans from the ARDB so that they help buy rice from farmers at an affordable price. By so doing, he said farmers would get profits to offset spending.

“I don’t know yet how the authorities can help ease farmers’ difficulties because most listen only to the orders of the government or their own institutions,” he said.

Savoeun said if the authorities do not help farmers collect rice yields on time, the quality of rice will be affected.

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