The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) together with the Techo Startup Centre and relevant stakeholders yesterday launched an inception workshop to disseminate information about a rural challenge and to discuss expectations of its intended digital platform under the Sustainable Assets for Agriculture Markets, Business and Trade (SAAMBAT) initiative.
SAAMBAT started on Sept 12, 2019, with an intended completion date on Sept 30, 2025.
The total estimated project cost is around $137.5 million, to be financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) loan of $53.2 million, an IFAD country grant of $1.2 million, a European Investment Bank loan of 51.5 million euros (about $59 million), a Foreseen Grant from the European Union of 15 million euros (about $17.2) and a Counterpart Fund from the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) of $10.8 million.
The project development objective is to sustainably increase productivity of rural youth, enterprises and the rural economy, contributing to the goal of reduced poverty and enhanced food security. There are expected to be about 200,000 rural households benefiting from services supported by the project.
This impact will result from two outcomes. First for poor rural people’s benefits from an increase in market participation increased. Second is an increase in poor rural people’s productive capacities. The SAAMBAT project will be delivered through two components: value chain infrastructure and skills, technology and enterprise.
Under Secretary of State of Economy and Finance and Chairman of Techo Startup Centre Kong Marry, said the inception workshop was to promote awareness of the project that has been taking place for more than 18 months.
He said that in the hard-hit situation of COVID-19, the agriculture sector play an important role for the country’s economy and job creation.
He added that the Cambodian government especially the Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth has already thought about this initiative. As a result, MEF proposed the digital platform for the agriculture value chain.
“Although the agriculture sector is crucial for the economy, it faces many challenges. However, our team here in the Techo Startup Centre is trying to address the issue and take advantages from the technology to improve the agriculture sector,” Marry said.
“The technology will improve the productivity and value chain and connect all stakeholders in agriculture and can help them to work together to provide information about agriculture products for the market,” he added.
“The platform is not just about the application,” he added. “This platform can allow people to interact and collect data and connect people on the platform,” Marry added. “We welcome all the input and comments from relevant stakeholders to make this project possible
Digital Technology Coordinator of the Techo Startup Centre Ty Makararavy said that for the SAAMBAT project component 2, MEF will focus on skills for rural youths while the Techo Startup Centre will focus on digital technology and enterprise for rural value chains.
She added that TSC through the SAAMBAT project will empower the rural economy through digital technology, improve the accessibility of agricultural products to the market also through digital technology and partner with key chain actors and startups to solve problems including distribution.
Makararavy said TSC has designed Khmer Agriculture Suite (KAS), which is an open digital platform for agricultural value chains by harnessing the power of emerging technology and innovation to address main challenges in productivity and distribution.
She added that for the KAS core platform, every stakeholder is on the platform – farmers, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, banks and microfinance institutions and deliverers. The system will collect data, pre-process data, analyse data and make useful predictions.
For the SAAMBAT project, the Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is the Leading Agency with the established Project Management Unit (PMU). The MRD-PMU is responsible for overall project coordination, planning, financial management, procurement and monitoring and evaluation. It directly complements Component 1, the value chain infrastructure.
The MEF is the implementing agency of Component 2: skills, technology and enterprise of SAAMBAT through the officially established Project Implementation Unit. Component 2 consists of three sub-components: skills for rural youths, technology and enterprise for rural value chains and policy research and strategic studies.