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UN pact seals pledge for cassava industry

May Kunmakara / Khmer Times Share:
Cambodian and UN officials during a signing ceremony of MoU. KT/Mai Vireak

Hong Kong-listed company Green Leader (Cambodia) signed a memorandum of understanding with the UN Development Program yesterday to develop Cambodia’s cassava industry and make it more competitive.

The MoU was signed a day after the company’s groundbreaking ceremony for its first starch processing plant, in Snoul district of Kratie province.

The signing took place at the Commerce Ministry and involved UNDP’s country director Nick Beresford and Green Leader CEO Michael Tse, witnessed by Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak.

Mr Beresford said the MoU would help develop Cambodia’s cassava value chain.

The move marked a concrete step in jointly supporting the development of cassava through partnerships with the private sector.

“The MoU will allow UNDP and Green Leader to bring in complementary comparative advantages, enhancing and upgrading the Cambodian cassava value chain, generating more value-added for the country’s economy, and particularly bringing in more benefits to cassava farmers,” he said.

“Green Leader comes to Cambodia at a right time to drive the sector as a private catalyst to a new phase in which more value is generated for the cassava industry, redistributing value-added downwards to different actors, and more importantly towards the end of the value chain, the farmers who play a critical role in the sustainable supply chain,” he added.

Mr Tse said the MoU showed the government’s commitment and facilitation to boost the cassava industry to the next level.

“We just had the groundbreaking ceremony of our first factory in Snoul yesterday with the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly and Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry Veng Sokhon in attendance,” he said.

“This is to demonstrate our firm commitment to the government and people of Cambodia that we are dead serious in helping to industrialise the long-struggling cassava sector,” he said.

“Through our expansion model as a ‘module’ concept, we can easily replicate the same design and modus operandi of our first factory to subsequent ones.

“This approach will help us achieve sustainability through an economy of scale and gradually help improve the livelihood of farmers.

“We look forward to a strong partnership with UNDP Cambodia and the Ministry of Commerce in contributing to the National Cassava Strategy to uplift the cassava sector,” he added.

Mr Sorasak said the ministry had been working closely with UNDP for years to improve the industry and the export the market to ensure prices for farmers who constantly faced fluctuations since they normally exported to neighbouring countries.

The MoU would add momentum to public-private partnerships and be a model for the change of the cassava industry in the country.

“Now, the Ministry of Commerce and UNDP will have a new partner, Green Leader, who will finally be the missing private sector partnership link in the development of the cassava sector in Cambodia,” he said.

The establishment of Green Leader’s factory in Snoul district of Kratie showed the company’s strong commitment to contribute to the economic development in Cambodia, to work with Cambodian people and to help farmers improve their livelihood.

“The ministry stands ready to support this initiative and hopes that this will kick-start the full industrialisation of the cassava sector,” the minister added.

The company plans to build 20 processing factories in Cambodia, with at least two this year.

It is looking for a third factory site between Kratie and Stung Treng provinces.

The ministry says cassava plantations rose from 30,000 hectares in 2005 to 684,070 hectares in 2016. Total production that year was 14.8 million tonnes.

Cassava in grown mainly in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Kratie, Kampong Thom, Tboung Khmom, and O’dor Meanchey provinces.

Cambodia exported 2.3 million tonnes of cassava chips in the first nine months of last year.

The Agriculture Ministry says about $2.9 million tonnes of cassava chips were exported in 2016.

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