Hong Kong firm and UNDP sign partnership in cassava sector

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Green Leader’s Michael Tse and UNDP’s Nick Beresford shake hands at the signing ceremony yesterday. KT/Mai Vireak

A new public-private partnership aims to improve the livelihoods of local cassava farmers by guaranteeing a market for their products through contract farming and by modernising the industry.

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Green Leader Holdings Group Limited, a Hong Kong-based investment holding firm, yesterday signed a cost sharing agreement for the ‘Accelerate Inclusive Cassava Market Development’ project, whose aim is to boost cassava exports.

The project will have a lifespan of 3.5 years and will cost about $800,000. As per yesterday’s agreement, Green Leader will shoulder $500,000, while UNDP will provide $300,000.

A goal of the partnership is to encourage more farmers to join contract farming schemes with the Hong Kong firm, which, according to project representatives, will improve their livelihoods by guaranteeing a certain price for their products.

UNDP’s country director Nick Beresford said the agreement marks an important milestone, reflecting a solid commitment from both UNDP and Green Leader to support governmental efforts to advance the cassava sector.

He said the partnership will result in a more valuable product and a more reliable supply chain.

Michael Tse, CEO of Green Leader, said they are committed to contribute to the sector’s industrialisation by establishing processing facilities throughout the country to produce cassava starch and modified starch for export.

“Construction for our first processing plant in Snoul, in Kratie province, began on April 1 and will be operational before the end of the year,” he said.

Mr Tse said bringing farmers on board their contract farming scheme was important to secure a reliable supply of fresh cassava for their factories.

“By working closely with farmers through contract farming schemes, we can achieve a win-win situation,” he said, adding that farmers will enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your product has a guaranteed buyer.

“Entering this cost sharing agreement with UNDP also signifies a further step forward in supporting the sustainable development of cassava through a public-private partnership. We will be able to achieve our initial objectives while bringing meaningful sustainable change,” he added.

He said the partnership will contribute to the success of the government’s national strategy for the cassava sector.

Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said the agreement is one of two major achievements in the sector so far this year; the other one being the drafting of a national strategy for the cassava sector.

“The Ministry of Commerce and UNDP are committed to the development of the cassava sector to reduce poverty and promote inclusive development,” Mr Sorasak said.

“The ‘Accelerate Inclusive Cassava Market Development’ project is the first private-public partnership initiative in which expenses are being shared and both private and public investment are being used,” he said.

He said this model maximises benefits for all actors in the value chain.

“I strongly believe that this model will generate fruitful results and an impact which will be replicated and scaled up throughout the country,” he added.

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