Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cambodia: Forum on loan products and banking services held for rice postharvest sector

The multistakeholder Cambodia Postharvest Learning Alliance sponsored the third business roundtable, Loan products and banking services for the postharvest sector, in Kampong Thom Province on 18 August 2012.

The forum featured presentations on postharvest losses and mitigation, business plans for piloting technologies with stakeholders, and information on loan products and financial services from local microfinance institutions ACLEDA, PRASAC, Amret, Sathapana, and VisionFund.

Forty-four representatives from local microfinance institutions; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF); provincial extension departments; the International Rice Research Institute; NGOs; key farmers; and private sector millers, processors, and service providers participated in the event.

“Rice production in Cambodia is increasing due to growing acceptance of modern agricultural technologies, improved seed varieties, and more efficient cropping methods," said Ou Bos Phoan, head of the Kampong Thom Provincial Department of Agriculture (PDA), who opened the event. "But these lead to increased bottlenecks in postharvest operations and preventable physical and quality losses that affect food security and income of farmers and other stakeholders.”

Pyseth Meas, director of the Department of International Cooperation of MAFF and coordinator of the ADB-funded Cambodia Learning Alliance, said, “We have created awareness of postharvest losses and mitigation options, such as combine harvesters, mechanical dryers and improved storage management, but it is important that farmers and other stakeholders are enabled to sustainably incorporate these into value-adding enterprise models. Participation and engagement of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in the postharvest sector is thus very important.”

One of the farmer leaders present remarked, “Us farmers are expected to act and be flexible against risks and other challenges such as pests, rain, anddrought. We face many obstacles and need other stakeholders to also understand, adapt, and offer flexible solutions that meet our needs if we are to succeed.”

The event was co-hosted by the Kampong Thom PDA, Cambodia MAFF, and IRRI.

The next business forum will be held in Phnom Penh in September and will be aimed at senior-level officers in Cambodia’s burgeoning microfinance sector. The goal of the forum will be to explore specifics of how MFIs can link to help stakeholders develop sound business plans and, in turn, how Learning Alliance members can help new entrepreneurs and loan providers reduce their risks with technical support, training, and selection of improved technologies.

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