Seven private companies signed agreements with German development agency GIZ last Friday to mark the start of long-term development projects that will strengthen agricultural value chains and provide more inclusive opportunities for Cambodian farmers.
The projects are the result of a collaboration between GIZ, the ASEAN Agrinnovation Fund (AIF), the General Directorate of Agriculture, and private partners, and will aim to connect the agricultural sector to wider markets.
Funds will be made available to support organic chili production, produce fertilizer from leftover mangos, and promote cover crops — crops planted in between cash crops to enrich the soil.
Additionally, investments will be made in solar-powered drying to produce herbs and spices, sustainable packaging and composting, and cooling storage systems for fresh vegetables.
Bronx Technology, a Phnom Penh-based software company will use its funds to develop an application to trace adherence to Good Agricultural Practices, guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Organization to ensure the sustainable production of goods.
At the signing ceremony in Romdoul Village, GIZ’s ASEAN team leader Frank Jattke said: “We understand that free movement of goods and services is a key aspiration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a cornerstone of the common market of the ASEAN Economic Community.”
“We hope that AIF would contribute to support the broader implementation of quality standards, to boost the opportunities to tap into global value chains, and to expand into markets within and outside of the region.”
The seven companies were chosen based on their “potential for impact, innovation, inclusiveness, replicability, and scalability”.
In total, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development will donate nearly 140,000 euro ($162,404) to the projects, with each company matching their awarded dontation monetarily or in-kind.
Khmer Organic Cooperative Co, Ltd (KOC), a social enterpirse that promotes organic farming, will use its funds to focus on organic chili production. The company’s CEO Ms. Thlang Sovann Piset expressed gratitude to GIZ for helping improve health standards and economic opportunities for Cambodians.
Piset said: “AIF supports us private sector companies to implement our innovations for the agricultural market and to pave the way for adoption of sustainable practices and ultimately improve the agricultural value chains in Cambodia.”
Promoting gender equality within the sector will also be a focus of the projects, according to Mony Sin, a technical advisor for the Promotion of Sustainable Agriculural Value Chain in ASEAN (ASEAN AgriTrade), the parent organization of AIF.
“The project expects to see more impact on gender awareness, particularly to see the roles of women [increase] in promoting the sustainable agriculture value chain,” he said.
GIZ said gender equality issues were implemented into the Strategic Plan of Action fo ASEAN Cooperation on Crops 2021-2025, a cooperative ASEAN plan that aims to strengthen the role of millions of small-scale farmers and fishers and small to-medium-sized enterprises in the region by ensuring that profits resulting from the growth of the industry are equally divided.
AgriTrade, a collobaration between Germany and ASEAN, also proposes to advise national policy makers on sustainability standards in the agricultural industry.
The initiative kicked off in July 2018 to uplift and integrate the agricultural sectors in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, and will run until December 2023. A total of 400,000 euros ($463,960) were awarded to fund projects throughout the region.
According to GIZ, each project will last a maximum of 18 months and is organized by public sector advisers, GIZ, and the private sector. They are then implemented with support from third-party operators.
The five other Cambodian companies chosen to receive funding were Krassna Management (solar-drying technology), Junlen (sustainable packaging and vemicompost), Kasekor Akphiwat Agricultural Cooperative (cooling storage), Kirirom Food Production (mango skin fertilizer), and SmartAgro (cover crop seed production).