RiceTechCambodia, a $5-million initiative funded by the Netherlands, was officially launched yesterday.
The five-year programme aims to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers in Mondulkiri province, in the country’s northeast, by helping them attain organic certifications and increase productivity.
During an event yesterday at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel Le Royal, the different organisations involved in the programme – including Oxfam, Development and Partnership in Action, Larive International, SanoRice Holding B.V., Amru Rice, and Mondulkiri’s department of agriculture – came together to sign an agreement to officially join the initiative.
The project was approved in June by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Partnership Facility commissioned by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The project, which will be implemented in the remote Kaoh Nheaek district, aims to reach 2,400 small-scale rice farmers. 1,300 of those farmers will receive extensive training on organic agriculture and good agricultural practices, while getting access to drying, storage and milling facilities to increase the quality of rice products, according to Veng Sakhon, the Minister of Agriculture.
The minister said RiceTechCambodia will boost organic rice production in the country, and earn the Kingdom a reputation abroad as a producer of organic rice.
Thomas van Leeuwen, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands to Cambodia, called on all actors involved in the project to combine, knowledge, technology and effort to add value to the country’s organic rice. “By doing that, it will enable Cambodia to reassure the international rice market.”
“We expect the initiative to significantly improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers,” he said.
Saran Song, CEO and president of Amru Rice, highlighted the programme’s role in promoting Cambodian rice abroad and in helping local farming communities.
“This is a crucial step towards turning farmers into agripreneurs. It will have a very positive impact in the lives of those farmers,” he said.
“The objective is to implement a responsible, sustainable and inclusive rice value chain connecting demand with supply, with smallholder farmers as core stakeholders,” he added.
Cambodia was the fifth largest exporter of organic rice to the EU last year. According to figures from the EU shared with the Cambodia Rice Federation, the Kingdom exported 8,467 tonnes of organic rice to the bloc last year, representing 3.9 percent of all EU organic rice imports.