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More Market Assess Need for Central Cambodia

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PHNOM PENH, March 14,2014 (Khmer Times) – Recent ADB studies have shown that the poor, living in central Cambodia require targeted livelihood development assistance to allow them to exploit economic opportunities associated with improved connectivity.
Realizing the limited commercial activities in Cambodia’s rural zones where trading potential are scarce pilot project to improve market access for the poor living in Kompong Thom province has been initiated with the aim of launching a nationwide project to promote commercialization in Cambodia.
Entitled ‘Improving Market Access for the Poor in Central Cambodia’, the $2.1 million project ($1.9 million funded by Japan and administered by ADB, and over $180,000 contributed by the Cambodian government), will improve the quality of life for at least 12,000 households in 11 villages near the pre-Angkorian 7th century temple complex of Sambor Prei Kuk, where poverty rates range from 30% to 40%.
By establishing community-based enterprises, expanding markets and lucrative value chains, and enhancing production and management skills for local enterprises, real income levels are expected to increase by at least 25% in 900 households. This project has a gender action plan to ensure a focus on women’s economic empowerment, and more than 60% of project beneficiaries are women.
As reported by ADB, this program targets four components. First, it promotes micro and small enterprise skills development and capacity building by supporting six production lines from three supply chains: i.e. handicrafts, cashews and palm sugar that can increase income to over 850 people.
Second, there is the construction of Sambor Prei Kuk Community Market located just at the entrance to the temple site, a number of community production centers (including a village cashew nut shelling center and silk weaving facilities), product exhibition centers, including a new night market in Kampong Thom town to open to tourists in February this year.
Third, this project also strengthens business supporting services and networking to link SMEs in Kampong Thom to broader markets. Village savings banks have been established to operate as transparently managed revolving village funds that offer borrowers convenient access to small loans without the high transaction costs associated with commercial microfinance institutions. On the marketing side, the project supported the development and launch of the ‘Ke’ brand of authentic handicrafts.
Lastly, it also supports institutional capacity building and inter-agency cooperation to promote pro-poor MSEs and ensure successful implementation and sustainability of the project.
“The grant’s complementary investments promote pro-poor enterprise development and will increase access to markets for formerly isolated villages. We want people to be able to secure a fair share of the growth expected from larger numbers of visitors to the province,” said ADB Senior Social Sector Specialist Karin Schelzig.
Tith Chantha, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Tourism and the project’s co-chairman said, beleving    that tourists will prolong their tour itinerary from only half day on average to about 1 and a half days  and this will encourage them to spend more so that people will earn more.
“Before, we realized that people living in this area cultivate many agro-products such as cashew and palm sugar, but after production, they just can’t find the market to sell the products with proper pricing,” he said. “We understand that and that’s why we initiated this project to help them produce the product with better quality and establish the market for them to sell with better pricing.”
According to him, the project is already showing returns on its investment. Apparently after the selected households successfully produce the products with better quality, they don’t have to sell their half-made products  to other traders; instead they can finish  the product by themselves with better standard, and supply to tourists visiting the site being their main market, and then supply to overseas markets with better price. They even get daily wage through the production chain as well.
“They can earn about $3 to $5 daily from this project which lifts  them above the poverty line,” he said. “Now they even can’t produce  enough products to meet the customers’ order, and they are delighted with that,” he said.
Despite the project not being able to  absorb too many people to prevent people from migration to work elsewhere, at least it can keep a fair amount of people employed at home, he added. “They can compare between earning from $100 to $150 per month by working here with the amount they earn elsewhere outside their homeland. They may consider staying home.”

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