Amru Rice, a leading local rice miller and exporter, yesterday inaugurated rice-storing facilities in Kampong Thom that were financed through a government-led lending scheme.

The new warehouse and silo will help stabilise the price of rice and increase exports, Amru said. They have cost $5 million and are located in Prasat Balang district.

Amru rice is one of three rice millers awarded loans from the government to build rice storage facilities since October.

The loans are part of a government lending scheme that makes low-interest loans, known as ‘emergency loans’, available to agricultural firms that want to build rice storage facilities in four rice-growing provinces – Battambang, Kampong Thom, Prey Veng and Takeo.

The initiative aims to boost the provinces’ storage capacity during harvest season as well as bolster paddy prices for farmers.

The loans are disbursed through the Rural Development Bank (RBD) and are repaid at a five percent interest rate over a period of 10 years.

Song Saran, owner of Amru rice, said the facilities can handle between 150,000 to 200,000 tonnes of rice a year. He said they have been built by a Thai company using state-of-the-art technology.

He said the facilities will benefit farmers in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap province.

“So far, we have around 50 farming communities supplying us. The launch of the new warehouse comes at just the right time to welcome the harvest season that will start in August and September.”

“Our achievement today will ensure prices remain stable for our farmers and will allow us to export more high-quality rice abroad,” he added.

In 2016, the government launched its first one-year emergency loan offer through the RDB to help the rice sector. The emergency fund for the year 2016-2017 consisted of $27 million, but for the period 2017-2018, it was increased to $50 million.

The government later announced that an extra $30 million in loans will be made available for building silos and warehouses, with the aim of stabilising the price of the commodity and protecting the livelihoods of farmers.

Ros Silava, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, who presided over the launching ceremony yesterday, said the government’s lending scheme has been very successful.

“The launching of the warehouse and silo today are great achievements for the government and for Kampong Thom province.

“They will improve the lives of farmers, particularly by keeping the price of rice high,” he said, adding that the new facilities will serve as centres for buying and processing paddy rice for companies in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces.

Kao Thach, RBD’s director-general, praised the government-led lending scheme, saying it was needed to combat a drop in the price of rice in 2016 and a lack of storage facilities across the nation.

“After the launch of the lending scheme, the price of rice has stabilised,” Mr Thach said, adding that the price of fragrant rice has reached 1,200 riel per kilogram this year, compared to 900 riel last year.

“It will boost storage and processing capacity in the country, increase the size of orders and make stockpiles easier to manage.”

According to an official report from the Ministry of Agriculture, from January to May, Cambodia exported 240,219 tonnes of rice, down 6.8 percent compared to the same period last year.

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