Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cambodia: Postharvest Learning Alliance sponsors forum on microfinance

The multistakeholder Cambodia Postharvest Learning Alliance sponsored a business forum, Emerging opportunities for microfinance in the postharvest rice sector, held on 14 September 2012 at the Himawari Hotel in Phnom Penh.

Thirty-one participants came, representing 9 microfinance institutions (MFIs), Asian Development Bank; Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program; IDE; HARVEST; provincial departments of agriculture; Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF); Departments of Agricultural Extension and Agricultural Machinery; private sector rice processors; IRRI; and the local project team. 

The event was opened by Meas Pyseth, coordinator, IRRI Postharvest Project; Bun Mony, CEO of SATHAPANA, one of Cambodia's leading MFIs; and Alfred Schmidley, IRRI business model specialist.

Dr. Pyseth, in his welcome remarks, highlighted project achievements and technologies now available to farmers and other chain actors that reduce physical losses, improve quality, and allow value-adding throughout the chain. These technologies include combine harvesters, mechanical dryers, and hermetic storage options that have been tested and studied in a business model context for sustainability and improving incomes of farmer and other rural actors.

“The next step for the Project is to link actor-specific business plans with MFIs by improving financial literary and creating awareness about loan products and postharvest sector opportunities,” IRRI's Dr. Schmidley stated. “By identifying needs for technical support and disseminating knowledge about improved technologies and postharvest management options, the Learning Alliance can help reduce risks to actors and loan providers in newly emerging enterprises.  However, to achieve this we need to improve financial literacy of actors and create awareness among MFIs about emerging opportunities.”

“To achieve better outcomes, we need human resources and financial capital, but it’s also important to find better ways to deploy resources more effectively by joining together with other actors,”  Dr. Mony added. “There are 33 MFIs licensed by Cambodia’s National Bank that have more than 800 branches countrywide. While 40% of Cambodian households have used microfinance in the past, we need to offer suitable loan products that serve new needs while keeping in mind the commercial context of enterprises.”

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