Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Manager preaches the gospel of diversity

Manager preaches the gospel of diversity

Manager preaches the gospel of diversity


Yang Sophol, 52, has been converted to the principles of agricultural diversity.

Photo by: Hector Bermejo

FOR many customers, bank mangers are there to listen to their requests and preferably say “yes”. But not Hem Vantha.

The branch manager for ACLEDA Bank in Pailin has made it a personal crusade to preach the gospel of agricultural diversity to his flock.

It’s a point he has made many times at meetings around the province.

“If we depend on one crop and we spend all year on it, it’s impossible,” he says.

Hem Vantha says 70 percent of the bank’s loans are to the agricult-ural sector.

He believes farmers would benefit from a more variegated approach that combines plantations, crop growing and even fish farming.

“If they change their attitude and adopt mixed agriculture, it can be good,” Hem Vantha says.

“If they grow only corn, when their crop gets damaged their income will decrease.”

Despite Hem Vantha’s sermons, few farmers seem to be getting his message.

“I see a small change,” he says. “They are growing a bit of chilli and some are farming fish, but they are not successful.”

Yang Sophol, 52, is one disciple who has heeded the word, according to Hem Vantha.

As well as having 27 hectares of corn and three hectares of cassava, she has 600 fruit trees.

“Before that, I just sold goods from my shop,” she says.

Yang Sophol took out her first loan from ACLEDA Bank in 2006, a couple of years after it opened a branch office in her town.

“At first, we did not know about their service and how to get a loan,” she says.

Beginning with micro-loans, Yang Sophol has gradually increased the amount she has borrowed from the bank over the years.

“Our most recent loan was for US$15,000 to buy a tractor,” she says.

“We have made some progress because of ACLEDA Bank. We can work more easily on the land and can buy more land.”

Rainfall is the key in determining how successful Yang Sophol’s  crops will be. Last year, there was plenty of rain.

“It was good,” she says. “We grew more than 100 tonnes of corn, and we sold it for $20,000.”

Despite her success, Yang Sophol still listens to advice given to her by ACLEDA’s staff and its manager.

“Whenever we apply for money, the bank officials give me some advice,” she says.

“They always encourage me to grow more, and to diversify – not to depend on one or two crops.”



  • Malaysia MP accused of ‘influencing law’

    Malaysian Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng arrived in Siem Reap early on Wednesday, in what was slammed by one NGO as efforts by Kuala Lumpur to “influence Cambodian law”. The Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh requested on January 30 “cooperation from the Ministry of Foreign

  • Ministries begin measures to offset EU’s EBA decision

    In the wake of the EU’s controversial announcement this week that it has begun the withdrawal process for Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential agreement, government ministries and political analysts continued to share their reactions and economic mitigation plans in preparation for the

  • Emirates launches route connecting Phnom Penh, Bangkok

    Emirates will launch a daily service on June 1 linking Phnom Penh (PNH) and Bangkok (BKK). The service from Phnom Penh to Dubai, via Bangkok, will provide more flight options to passengers travelling between the capitals of Cambodia and Thailand. Travellers from the Southeast Asian nations

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s