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Microfinance for plantation families

Chea Vannak / Khmer Times Share:
Rubber being extracted from a tree in a rubber plantation. KT/Ven Rathavong

The Agriculture Ministry and the government-run Rural Development Bank have discussed setting up a fund to support family rubber farmers.

The idea is to help by giving farmers financial supports with interest rates lower than those of commercial banks and MFIs.

A meeting between the ministry and the bank was asked to provide financial services for rubber farmers because MFI and commercial bank interest rates were so high that they made it hard for farmers to survive, said Pol Sopha, director-general of the ministry’s general directorate of rubber.

“There are a lot of financial sources, but financial services at MFIs have high interest rates, so we asked the Rural Development Bank because the bank has lower interest rates,” Mr Sopha said.

The financial support will be for family-owned rubber processing, he said, added that technical assistance including rubber tree breeding and technical planting would be from the ministry.

Bank director-general Kao Thach could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But Lim Heng, vice-president of rubber exporter An Mady Group, welcomed the move.

He said it would help farmers increase production, but he called for a government strategy in dealing with rubber.

“It is the right way for government to help rubber farmers, but the government should set a rubber policy to support rubber development and attract more investment in the sector,” Mr Heng said.

There are more than 30,000 rubber farmers across the country, planting over 150,000 hectares.

As of the first two months of this year, Cambodia had 436,812 hectares cultivating rubber, of which 171,000 hectares were being harvested.

Cambodia exported 28,427 tonnes of rubber at an average price of $1,468 per tonne during the period.

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