Two months ago, RMA Cambodia launched a new showroom and service center in Kampong Thom province, with another to follow in Takeo province by mid-July. The company also has two other provinces on its radar: Kampong Chan and Banteay Meanchey.
Before Mike Quin joined RMA Cambodia in January 2013, he said that they “basically just had one outlet store, which was in Phnom Penh, and I quickly saw that we needed to develop more branches so that we could be closer to our customers to offer better service and to quickly supply replacement parts.”
As the infrastructure manager for RMA Cambodia, the official Cambodian dealer of the world’s largest agricultural equipment provider, John Deere, Quin said that with a three-pronged strategic approach to meet farmers’ demands, the company can boost yields and production by mechanizing Cambodia’s agricultural industry, while creating a thriving regional competitor.
RMA’s approach to introducing top of the line machines includes providing finance to small-scale farmers, establishing branch outlets to meet customer demand for service and parts, and by having a five-year maintenance guarantee on all of the products it distributes.
As crops continue to diversify, another development that has boosted RMA’s reach into provinces has been the maintenance of John Deere sugar cane harvesters in three strategic areas. These areas include the Ural district, the area around Phnom Penh Sugar in Kampong Speu, as well as offices in Preah Vihear, explained Quin.
“The [selling] of cane harvesters has been extremely good business. We see a lot of growth in sugar cane production and the thing that differentiates us from our competition is that we offer onsite support. We have maintenance contracts and spare parts readily available to maintain the equipment. Cane harvests only operate four months a year, with the machines working 12 to 14 hours a day. So, it is critical that our team can guarantee that they are operational,” he said.
While Cambodia has been relatively slow in adopting mechanized farming, and the government’s vision of achieving an export of one million tons of rice remains hindered by a lack of milling capacity and funding, RMA Cambodia has introduced methods to fill the gap and get its machinery out to farmers.
“RMA Cambodia has its own finance company, a registered financial institution, and we offer favorable terms” for small-scale farmers who lack access to credit and have little history in the banking and financing sector, said Quin.
“[Finance] has been a key component to the successes of our business, there is no doubt. We also offer lower repayment installments over the offseason when farmers are not producing, and in some instances, we stop the payments altogether until production begins again. And I must say that our default rates have been very, very low. This shows that the small farmers are very good operators,” he explained.
With RMA’s vision of being the number one supplier of agricultural machinery in the Kingdom, the company has introduced a new fleet of John Deere tractors to Cambodia. By increasing their product range, they have launched the E series—compact utility tractors that range from 35 to 90 horsepower engines—primarily used for rice farming. At the same time, by catering to the growing large-scale agribusiness industry that requires versatile, hard working tractors to harvest a greater volume of crops including sugar cane, cassava and corn, RMA has introduced tractors that range from having 110 to 200 horsepower engines.
As a leader in heavy machinery, RMA Cambodia sells JCB backhoe loaders for infrastructure projects like canal and irrigation systems, and Fuso trucks—a division of Mitsubishi—for increased logistic support.
To familiarize farmers with these new products, Quin said that venturing out to the countryside is essential. RMA invites villagers to demonstrations five to six times a year. These harvesting demonstrations also include workshops and technical discussions.
While Quin has worked in countries like New Zealand and Australia, as well as various countries across Central Africa, he says that “Cambodia is relatively young in terms of the utilization of agricultural equipment.” But that is changing quickly as farmers who start with small tractors, naturally progress to bigger tractors, while harvesting more on more farm land and generating higher profits.
However, Quin believes that until infrastructure is developed and large-scale irrigation projects are undertaken, allowing Cambodian farmers to harvest more than once a year, “it will be many years before we get to medium or large scale farming by the local community.”
“If you could increase the critical areas of production and the availability of water, the level of harvest could be tripled. If some areas are currently producing 500,000 tonnes, you could go to 1.5 million…but it will still take a long time to develop,” he said.