The International Fund for Agriculture Development (Ifad) will disburse an additional $64 million in concessional loans to the Cambodian government to boost the local agriculture industry.
Meng Sakphouseth, country programme officer at Ifad, told Khmer Times yesterday that the money will go towards two of Ifad’s programmes in Cambodia: the Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension – also known as ‘ASPIRE’ – and Sustainable Asset for Agricultural Market, Business and Trade, which is shortened to ‘SAAMBAT.’
$12million will go towards ASPIRE, an ongoing prorgramme, while $52 will be used to finance SAAMBAT, scheduled to begin in 2020 and end in 2025.
SAAMBAT will focus on building entrepreneurship and improving infrastructure in the agriculture industry. The programme, which is now on the drawing board, will seek to support SMEs in geographical areas that have high potential for agriculture.
Other Ifad projects in the country include the Tonle Sap Poverty Reduction and Smallholder Development Project; the Project for Agricultural Development and Economic Empowerment; and the Agriculture Services Programme for Innovation, Resilience and Extension.
During a meeting on Tuesday, Nigel Brett, Ifad’s executive director for Asia and the Pacific, and Aun Pornmonirath, the Economy and Finance Minister, agreed to work closely together to prepare the strategy framework on the financing cooperation for 2021-2026.
Mr Pornmonirath said future cooperation with Ifad will focus on agricultural development and poverty reduction in rural areas. It will seek to boost sustainability and guarantee food security, as well as improving productivity and promoting diversification in the sector.
“The government will seek to attract more investment in infrastructure, particularly small and medium irrigation systems and small roads for better transportation. We also aim to lower electricity bills for farmers,” the minister said.
Since 1996, Ifad has provided Cambodia more than $200 million in concessional loans.