The rice storage facilities funded by the government under a lending scheme will be ready within a month, with sector insiders claiming they will be key in helping the ailing rice industry recover.
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The government has disbursed more than $30 million in loans to build silos, depots and warehouses in four rice-growing provinces – Battambang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo.
Loans are repaid at a five percent interest rate over a period of 10 years.
The silos and depots will be finished by late February and warehouses are expected to be ready by April, said Kao Thach, director-general of state-owned Rural Development Bank (RDB), the institution that disbursed and manages the loans.
These storage facilities will help avert a crisis in the rice industry like the one experienced in 2016, Mr Thach said.
“I hope the new facilities will help us avoid another crisis,” he said. “Their capacity is huge; big enough to store all paddy produced during the harvest season in those provinces.”
“The 2016 crisis came about, mostly, because of a lack of storage infrastructure. When all the storage facilities are operational, we can fend off another crisis. The government has done a good job in this regard,” Mr Thach said.
Each silo can store up to 1,500 tonnes of paddy, while the warehouses have a capacity of 5,000 tonnes.
“The new infrastructure will allow us to expand the amount of rice we process for export,” said Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, one of four beneficiaries of the lending scheme.
The great capacity of the storage facilities will help curb the outflow of paddy to neighboring countries, said Mr Saran, adding that millers will have at their disposal a year’s worth of rice.
For the period 2017-2018, the government gave an extra $50 million in emergency loans to the sector.
Mr Thach said he expected even more money to become available as the year progresses given that the rice season lasts until April.