The dry spell that has affected the beginning of the wet season and compromised rice crops nationwide has forced the government to prepare 5,000 tonnes of seed to assist struggling farmers. The Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology (MWRM) announced yesterday that another minor dry period may appear in the rainy season during July. National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM) spokesman Soth Kim Kolmony said yesterday that the 5,000 tonnes of seed in reserve, includes 2,000 tonnes of rice seed and other crop types. The NCDM also plans to assist farmers in irrigating their rice fields. He added: “If the fields can’t be rehabilitated, then we will provide cash aid to farmers.” Eam Nhem, director of Kiri Udom Ta’O Agriculture Community in Takeo province, said nearly 1,000 hectares of rice fields in his community are affected by drought.
A new ACIAR-funded project will help governments, financial service providers and NGOs better understand the impacts of mobile financial services on farming households in developing countries. The project team hopes by adding to the global understanding of these impacts, their research will inform financial product design, policy decisions, and NGO practices. The project, led by the University of Western Sydney, will run for 5 years and focus on the impacts of financial services enabled by smartphones and other mobile devices on women and men in farming households in Cambodia and Laos. Dr Todd Sanderson, ACIAR Research Program Manager for Social Systems, anticipates the project’s findings will be extrapolated to other countries where such services are growing. ‘There is limited knowledge globally about the relationship between women, mobile finance and development, so there is a good chance that the evidence we find through this project can contribute to the global thinking about delivering better services and mitigating risks,’ he said. ‘ACIAR is committed to progressing the position of women and girls in the areas where we work. If we believe the claims being made about mobile financial services, then there may well be potential for well-designed products to propel women and girls to better positions within their communities and economic hierarchies.’ He said while great claims are made about the role of mobile finance services in supporting development, little evidence exists to back up these claims. In fact, Dr Sanderson said, there were just as many reasons to be concerned about the risks including going into debt and accessing online gambling. Project leader, Dr Erin Taylor, University of Western Sydney, said it is widely thought that using mobile phones to deliver credit, savings, insurance and payments empowers farmers to better manage their finances. ‘It’s assumed that mobile access to finance can help farmers buy inputs or new equipment, to increase income and improve food security. But we lack evidence,’ said Dr Taylor. Across the globe, women manage 80% of household spending and may benefit from increased access to financial services. Easier access to financial services could help women fulfil-or even transform-their roles. Due to the digital gender gap, however, women have less access to online resources and services than men – therefore the opportunities offered by mobile financial services may be curtailed by lack of access, The project will systematically research the impacts of mobile financial services on the everyday lives of farming families, especially women. ‘For example, how will it affect their ability to send and receive money, make payments, and store money digitally instead of having to carry around cash? There could be benefits for women, as well as risks. We are really interested in capturing the perspectives of people who will be impacted,’ said Dr Taylor. The project team will first do a global survey to collect all existing information. They will look at academic literature as well as seek internal reports from NGOs, governments and financial institutions. They will identify knowledge gaps and propose future design opportunities in Cambodia and Laos to fill those gaps. The project team includes economists, anthropologists and a human geographer, and is located across Australia, Laos and Cambodia. The team will interview people who are part of farming households and observe their financial behaviours. Economic experiments will deepen the team’s understanding of how the farmers assess financial service tools. Dr Taylor said it was important to study the impact of mobile financial services now, as more people in rural and remote communities in Laos and Cambodia were buying smartphones and more financial service providers are entering the market. This is complicating regulation of the sector. The project team will engage with other stakeholders including central banks, governments, NGOs and companies. The project is funded through the ACIAR Social Systems Research Program and is working in close collaboration with key partner institutions including the University of Adelaide, Royal University of Phnom Penh, and the National University of Laos. Mirage News.com
Two big firms – Amru Rice Cambodia and Cambodian Agriculture Cooperative Corporation (CACC), the largest buyers of Preah Vihear province’s organic products – have extended their order of organic rice and cassava from 31 agricultural cooperatives in the province this year. The contracts were signed in the provincial city this morning under the presidency ofKim Rithy, Governor of Preah Vihear province. Under the contracts, Amru Rice Cambodia will purchase a total of 16,000 tonnes of organic rice while CACC will order 25,000 tonnes of organic cassava and 10 tonnes of organic peanuts. In addition, Amru Rice Cambodia has provided credit of 59,400 kilogrammes of registered Romduol rice variety for the province to contribute to increasing rice yields and quality for export to international markets. PeungTrida, Director of Preah Vihear Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, stated that in 2022, a total of 28,000 tonnes of organic agricultural products, including 15,080 tonnes of organic rice, 13,000 tonnes of organic cassava, and 5 tonnes of organic peanuts. were produced and supplied by contract by more than 5,000 farmer families. Oknha Song Saran, CEO of Amru Rice Cambodia, is committed to boosting Preah Vihear organic rice promotion and export to a wider global market in order to further enhance the reputation of Preah Vihear rice in the international arena. For his part, HE Kim Rithy spoke highly of the well-coordinated efforts of all stakeholders, with the coordination of the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, leading to the subsequent achievement in terms of contract farming, which can be considered as a procedure for producers and buyers to move in a specific direction together with transparency, truthfulness and mutual trust. Organic rice and cassava in Preah Vihear province are known to be the largest organic agricultural products in Cambodia. Heng Panha – AKP
The Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) urged all rice mill owners to buy rice from farmers at a market price through ARDB loan support, as the government aims to collect over one million tonnes for export, a Battambang Chamber of Commerce press release said. Kao Thach, Director-General of ARDB, held a meeting with the rice miller and exporters from Pursat, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provinces at the office of Battambang Chamber of Commerce. During a meeting, Kao Thach encouraged all millers to help buy rice from farmers as much as possible at the market price. He hoped all owners will work together in solidarity to improve farmers’ livelihoods and successfully export one million tonnes of rice according to the government plan. He assured that ARDB will continue to provide loans to the rice millowners to purchase rice from farmers in the upcoming harvest season. He recommended setting up many rice markets in their areas to make it easier for farmers to gather and sell it out which could reduce the cost of transportation of the farmers. Kao Thach also urged the representatives of rice buyers to make payments through the application of ARDB bank when purchasing agricultural products, which can be transferred to other banks easily and quickly. In addition, he suggested all rice millers apply for additional loans from the ARDB bank in case of lack offunds. The banks only require some information to approve a load or stockpile of rice as collateral. The bank will monitor the use of loans under the special financing scheme of the government to ensure the stability of rice prices provided through ARDB at the location of five rice mill factories in Maung Russey district, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey province. He asked them to be united, not to compete with each other but to work together to promote the prosperity of the rice sector in the country.