A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Grow Asia targeting six local cash crops

A farmer throws harvested cassava root onto a pile in Battambang province in 2011.
A farmer throws harvested cassava root onto a pile in Battambang province in 2011. Heng Chivoan

Grow Asia targeting six local cash crops
Fri, 3 June 2016 ppp
Kali Kotoski and Cheng Sokhorng

Grow Asia, which formally launched a partnership with Cambodia late last year, will reconvene on June 13 in Phnom Penh to kick-off working groups between the public and private sector, including NGOs, after targeting six crops for market potential.

The Grow Asia program is a multi-stakeholder partnership that aims to promote inclusive agricultural growth amongst ASEAN member states. The organisation is backed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and has partnered with Cambodia’s Agriculture Ministry and the World Bank.

Jenny Costelloe, Grow Asia’s director of country partnerships, confirmed yesterday that the organisation would focus on six crops: rice, cassava, coconut, palm sugar, pepper and vegetables.

“We believe that Cambodia is a very fertile place and Grow Asia will promote the private sector by bringing in multinational corporations,” she said. “This allows for Cambodia to engage with the region and for companies to commit to purchase agreements.”

She added that Grow Asia seeks to build a long-term strategic cooperation that brings together the government and stakeholders.

“The next step is to meet on June 13 to launch the working groups,” she said.

Grow Asia does not provide lending or grants. Its purpose is to give Cambodia greater market access to the region, she said.

The Grow Asia partnership platform has set a goal of reaching 10 million farmers in the ASEAN region, and increasing profitability by 20 per cent by 2020. Currently, Grow Asia is active in Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar and has 100 members and 65 companies.

At the World Economic Forum on ASEAN, Prime Minister Hun Sen applauded the benefits that Grow Asia will reap by meeting farmers’ needs for access to markets.

Meas Pyseth, director of department of the international cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture, said that prioritising six crops with a multi-team effort would promote the Kingdom’s agricultural sector.

He added that while the Ministry of Agriculture had made notable achievements, its effectiveness remained limited.

“Grow Asia has the experience with the Agriculture sector, and understands which crops are required for the market. As long as the organisation has a large network across the country, we can promote both the domestic market and international exports,” he said.

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