February 8, 2024
PHNOM PENH – The Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) has earmarked approximately $100 million for the government’s special financing programme aimed at stabilising agricultural commodity prices during this year’s harvest season.
Kao Thach, CEO of ARDB, told The Post on February 7 about an internal meeting he led on February 5 focused on the initiative, which will also serve to enhance production and market accessibility.
“The [programme] … represents a key government intervention to stabilise the prices of agricultural commodities. Specifically for the rice sector, the effort aims to support potential rice millers or exporters by providing working capital financing. The assistance enables them to purchase rice from farmers, thereby contributing to … price stability and enhancing Cambodia’s food security and export potential,” he explained.
“The fund is allocated for the current year… and is designated for disbursement in the event of price fluctuations during the harvest season. As of now, we have not yet distributed any funds,” he added.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd, expressed confidence that the programme would enable exporters to increase their purchases, facilitating milling for export and also allowing for stockpiling.
“The government consistently focuses on advancing the rice sector. Historically, we have grappled with a capital shortfall for purchasing farmers’ paddy rice, leading to bottlenecks and price drops. The private sector has repeatedly collaborated with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to support the farmers,” he said.
“The forthcoming capital release from the government will not only boost the sector but also play a crucial role in maintaining price stability for the populace,” he added.
Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, highlighted the vulnerability of farmers and noted their struggles with market access and the relative scarcity of domestic financing in the sector.
“The special government fund will be instrumental in managing price fluctuations during the harvest season, a period typically marked by price drops. I believe the fund will be crucial in stabilising prices for our farmers,” he said.
On January 25, the Ministry of Commerce conducted an internal meeting to plan the establishment of wholesale markets nationwide, in an initiative aimed at normalising prices and expanding market opportunities for farmers, who are particularly susceptible to price manipulation by brokers.
The country’s agricultural exports slightly declined by 1.9% in 2023 compared to 2022, totalling over 8.449 million tonnes. The exports generated more than $4.306 billion, with milled rice shipments valued at over $567 million, unmilled at $939 million and other agricultural products amounting to over $2.799 billion, as reported by the agriculture ministry.
The ministry’s report detailed a wide range of agricultural products classified under the “other” category.
This included 1.2 million tonnes of dried cassava chips, 1.9 million of fresh cassava, over 36,000 of cassava flour, more than 74,000 of cassava waste and upwards of 420,000 of cashew nuts.
The report also highlighted exports of over 71,000 tonnes of corn, more than 28,000 of catjang seeds and over 54,000 of soybean seeds.
Fruit exports encompassed nearly 290,000 tonnes of fresh bananas, over 160,000 of fresh mangoes, more than 27,000 of dried mango and over 17,000 of fresh longans.
The country also exported over 79,000 tonnes of palm oil, in excess of 6,000 of pepper and over 220 of assorted vegetables, as well as nearly 540,000 tonnes across 100 other agricultural products.
“In 2023, farmers cultivated 554,210ha of dry-season rice, approximately 111.25% of the planned 498,170ha. To support this, we implemented emergency rescue measures to encourage production, cultivation and animal rearing, which were actively embraced by farmers,” stated the ministry.