Aid Agencies Agree To Help Grow Cambodia’s Agriculture Sector

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A development strategy to expand exports of agricultural products to help spur economic growth through sustainable farming practices was launched by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries last year.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) jointly agreed yesterday in an agreement to earmark $158 million as support to the Kingdom’s Agricultural Strategic Development Plan.

“The agreement will oversee the development and enactment of policies with the Royal Government of Cambodia to improve Cambodia’s agricultural sector as a critical part of the country’s economic growth,” stated a press release issued by the US Embassy.

“It will also help businesses – from the farmer to the trader to the local store owner – work better together so that Cambodia’s agricultural products can compete in the local market and earn the greatest price,” it added.

The US Embassy said the agreement goes into effect immediately and covers the two agencies’ activities for the next five years.

USAID’s assistance to Cambodia is under the aegis of the US government’s Feed the Future program.

“Through the Feed the Future program, USAID plans to invest approximately $40 million to support Cambodia’s agricultural sector development over the next five years.  IFAD provides both grants and loans to support the Royal Government’s agricultural development plan totalling $118 million dollars over five years,” said the press release.

Polly Dunford, USAID’s Cambodia mission director, said a vibrant and growing agricultural sector was crucial to Cambodia’s future growth.

“By working more closely together, we hope that USAID and IFAD can help Cambodia’s farmers contribute more effectively to the national economy while helping their families and communities,” said Ms. Dunford.

Benoit Thierry, IFAD country program manager for Asia and the Pacific, said for over two decades IFAD had been helping rural Cambodians rise out of poverty by increasing opportunities to improve their livelihoods.

“Coordinating our support with other development partners like USAID will translate into more effective investments and important gains for Cambodia’s agriculture and we are calling for more agencies to join this effort,” said Mr. Thierry.

The Agriculture Ministry last year launched a strategy for developing the sector, aiming to expand exports of agricultural products to spur economic growth through sustainable farming practices.

The five-year Agricultural Sector Strategy Development Plan specifies policy goals and objectives, expected development outcomes, and lists the activities the Ministry will implement, officials said.

The document reflects the government’s policy direction for agriculture according to its Rectangular Strategy for Growth Phase-3, and also aligns with the National Strategic Development Plan 2014-2018, they said. Both continue to promote the enhancement of agricultural productivity, diversification and commercialisation, according to the report of the five-year plan.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.