$10m Fund to Buy Rice from Struggling Farmers

Farmers battling tumbling rice prices have been thrown an additional lifeline in the form of a $10 million fund
A person transports bags of rice on a motorbike in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A person transports bags of rice on a motorbike in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has pledged to provide another $10 million in addition to a $83 million fund to purchase rice from farmers at a reasonable cost amid low prices​ to avoid selling to crooked dealers.

On Monday, the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) said in a press release that the additional $10 million in funding is from the government to rice mills to help buy rice from farmers as they face lowering prices.

The announcement comes after recent fluctuating prices in some rice-producing provinces, especially Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, due to a large harvest season, resulting in large sales of rice at the same time.

“In order to promote rice procurement and help stabilize the price of rice to farmers, the Royal Government of Cambodia, with the Ministry of Economy and Finance as its staff, has carefully considered and decided to provide an additional $10 million on the purchase fund,” the news release said.

The ARDB said this was in addition to the $83 million already in place to support rice mills and rice processing companies to collect rice from farmers at reasonable prices. This will avoid selling in discounts to some crooked dealers, the ARDB said.

It added that the rice yield has "overwhelmingly" increased at the same time and it is impossible for mills to collect all the rice, which leads to lower rice prices compared to the beginning of the season.

ARDB also called on farmers in rice-harvested areas to set up harvesting programs with local mills to avoid simultaneous harvesting, which could lead to degradation of rice prices.

Theng Savoeun, director of the NGO Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community, told Kiripost on Tuesday that providing $10 million dollars to help collect purchasing all the rice from citizens is a good action to assist the livelihood of them.

However, he urged the government to pay close attention to those institutions during the process of buying rice in order to ensure that there is no fraud.

“It’s a good thing [providing $10 million], but I would like​ to request a mechanism to the ministry and the Rural Development Bank to follow those rice mills that have borrowed money from the government in order to make sure that they actually help buy the rice from the farmers at a suitable price that can help them to gain profit as well or not,” he said.

He added that the tracking of rice mills and brokers should be conducted everyday by the government and the Bank of Rural Development and Agriculture. Hence to keep up to date with those brokers on how they use the money to buy rice, avoiding using money out of target.

On November 17, Cambodia's fragrant Phka Romduol jasmine rice was crowned the best rice in the world at this year’s World Rice Forum held in Phuket, Thailand, making it the fifth time Cambodia has won the title.