US set to kick off Harvest III to help agri sector

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken participated in the USAID’s Food Security Funding Announcement Program on August 4. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM Hong Menea

Feed the Future Cambodia Harvest III, a US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded project, is expected to raise about $153 million for private sector investment, agricultural-related financing and the sale of agricultural products.

The project, which is expected to create 3,200 jobs, will run from April 2022 to March 2027 and work in partnership with hundreds of private sector companies.

 

Through combined efforts of the activity and private sector partners, USAID would be allocating $38 million for private sector investment, $15 million for agricultural-related financing and $100 million for the sale of agricultural products.

Harvest III will work with producers and associations, agribusinesses, service and technology providers, financial institutions and other stakeholders.

The project’s objectives include ensuring the sustainability and inclusiveness of the agricultural market system by increasing private sector investment to strengthen climate resilience and a competitive agricultural market system.

In addition, it aims to enhance the technical and business capacity of farms and private companies, farmers and women- and youth-owned businesses to increase their income.

On the sidelines of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Cambodia on August 4, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who participated in the USAID’s Food Security Funding Announcement Program, acknowledged Cambodia’s exports to the US, while singling out Cambodia’s cashew nuts for its high quality.

“In order to support the [country’s] economic growth and [her] people who depend on agriculture as their main source of income, agricultural production methods must be modernised.

 

“Cambodia must increase its competitiveness in domestic and international markets, which means improving access to finance, increasing value-added, reducing climate risk, improving quality and adhering to safety standards and increasing access to agricultural services,” Blinken said.

Patrick Murphy, US ambassador to Cambodia, said the Harvest III project would help farmers grow their trade and bring in modern technology that would raise productivity, add value to their products and achieve sustainable development.

“Both USAID and the US Department of Agriculture have been implementing programmes that support the provision of resilient food security funds and contribute to Cambodia’s economic growth,” he said.

Kann Kunthy, director-general of Cambodian Agricultural Corporation Company (CACC), a subsidiary of Amru Rice (Cambodia) Co Ltd, said the Harvest II fund, implemented in the past, has helped the company.

The fund enabled export of processed organic cashew nuts under a Khmer brand name, which is the first for Cambodia.

“We are interested in the Harvest III project but we want to see the criteria first. If it is not too complicated, we would apply for funding from the project,” he said.

Bun Seang, president of Natural Agriculture Village Company, said her company received about $50,000 from Harvest II, which was used to connect farmers to markets and increase the quality of vegetables for consumers.

“The challenge for vegetable growers today is the weather. We hope that the Harvest III project will help us address climate change by allowing us to continue producing safe vegetables in every season to meet market demand,” she said.

The Harvest project has already run twice. Over the past five years, the Harvest II project has helped the private sector increase capital investment by about $28 million and create more than 2,500 jobs.

It also supported the development of 17 agricultural policies as well as businesses and producers in the horticultural field while increasing sales by more than $75 million.