The EU will give $16 million to a project of the Ministry of Agriculture and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization aimed at strengthening local agricultural production and food security, and another $16 million for other programs that increase access to food in Cambodia, officials announced yesterday.
According to FAO Country Representative Ajay Markanday, EU support for the three-year project “could not have come at a more opportune time,” as Cambodia’s food security was faced with pressures from volatile food prices, the impact of the global economic crisis and the emerging threats of climate change.
Agriculture Minister Chan Sarun said during a ceremony at his ministry, that the project would reduce the adverse impacts of fluctuating food prices and was “very necessary” to improve agriculture and live stock production, soil quality and farming techniques in the provinces of Prey Veng, Takeo, Svay Rieng, Kompong Speu, Kampot, Banteay Meanchey, Kompong Thom, Kompong Chhnang and Preah Vihear.
The project, which started in May and will run until June 2011, will support at least 50,000 poor families, distributing agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers and farming tools to boost their production, the EU and FAO said. Post-harvest equipment and storage facilities would be provided to 7,800 of these households, while water management infrastructure for 3,000 hectares of farmland owned by 9,600 families would be improved, and 5,000 families will be instructed in ways to improve nutritional intake, the organizations said in a joint statement.
Rafael Dochao Moreno, Charge d’Affairs of the European Commission to Cambodia, said the EU was requesting proposals for projects supporting agricultural production for the additional $16 million it had available to improve food security, adding that the total $32 million came from the EU’s $1.4 billion Food Facility Program—a fund created in December following the spike in global food prices early 2008.
Him Khortieth, communications officer for The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agriculture, said the project would be a welcome boost for farmers as they were suffering from drought, the economic crisis and high food prices, which he said had came down after soaring in early 2008 but were still high. “We do hope this project will reach the poor families,” he added.