Rural Development Bank, a state-run financial institution, is calling on farmers to come together to form agricultural communities to gain access to cheaper credit, technical support and training.
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On top of providing loans, RDB can help farmers reduce costs and improve their farming techniques, RDB’s CEO Kao Thach told Khmer Times yesterday.
“We are asking farmers to come together to form agriculture communities, or join existing communities, so that they can access our low-interest loans,” Mr Thach said. “They will also gain access to technical support and training to increase their earnings and expand their operations.”
RDB now works with over 100 agricultural communities, which are primarily located in Battambang, Preah Vihear, Kampong Thom and Kandal province. These communities work on a variety of areas, including animal husbandry, as well as vegetable and rice farming.
The bank will soon establish ties with communities in Takeo, Prey Veng and Svay Rieng, Mr Thach said, adding that the goal is to eventually reach every province in the country.
“Besides giving access to cheaper credit, we provide these communities access to technical training by partnering up with non-profit organisations,” he said.
The bank can also help farmers reduce costs by linking them up with seed and fertilizer suppliers that can offer them better prices, Mr Thach said.
Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice, told Khmer Times that his company encourages farmers to form agricultural communities and work with RDB, but added that farmers that secure loans need to undergo training to ensure they use the credit wisely.
“Farmers that take out loans need to be given access to training so that they can better utilise that credit,” he said. “They need to be trained in entrepreneurial and business management skills.”
“We need to empower them, and this includes helping them draft a business plan, as well as improving their financial management skills to help them expand their share of the market.”
Earlier this year, Hean Vanhan, director-general of the General Directorate of Agriculture, said that agricultural communities boost cooperation among farmers and make it easier to find buyers for their products.
“Working together, they have a stronger bargaining position in negotiations with buyers. Provincial and capital agricultural departments provide assistance to these communities to smooth out the transition of living in a community and working together,” Mr Vanhan explained.
“We guide them on how to manage their agricultural work as a group, including planting and finding markets. We also conduct studies to determine what crops grow best in their area. We also help them meet traders who want to partner with them.”
In 2017, there were 880 agricultural communities across the country. Takeo province had 100, Battambang 77, and Kampong Thom 55.
Up to 89,474 farmers are currently involved in agricultural communities in the Kingdom, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.