PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Mars Food and Battambang Rice Investment Co., Ltd (BRICo), launched a partnership to promote sustainable development of Cambodia’s rice industry. The partnership will work toward improving rice production and enhancing linkages with the global rice value chain and will help Cambodia’s agri-sector expand market access and increase export value.
According to IFC, rice is Cambodia’s most important crop, engaging 80% of farmers. Cambodia’s rice exports have grown tenfold since 2010, due to raised industry standards, improved efficiency of rice millers and re-processors, and streamlining of export procedures, among others. However, the sector would like to further increase the rice export value by improving rice yield and quality, adopting sustainable farming and processing practices, and enhancing value chain linkages. In addition, with climate change threats, there is an urgent need to shift to a more sustainable way of growing rice, IFC said.
IFC and Mars Food along with its local rice supplier Battambang Rice Investment Co., Ltd. (BRICo) — a rice mill from Cambodia’s rice bowl of Battambang — kick-started the advisory project on May 22. By helping farmers conform to agricultural standards and practices developed by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) and improving famers’ adoption of technology and climate smart agriculture practices, the project is expected to result in a 20% increase in yield and a 25% increase in income by 2025. Over the next three years, the partnership expects about 9,000 smallholder farmers to benefit from exposure to sustainable farming practices, climate-smart agriculture technologies and financial literacy training disseminated by the project.
“This partnership with IFC, and Mars’ commitment to sustainable sourcing is a key part of Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation Plan,” said Luc Beerens, global sustainable sourcing director at Mars Food. “We strive for all of our high-quality rice to be sourced from farmers working toward the Sustainable Rice Platform standard. IFC’s work to advance sustainability in Cambodia’s rice sector, particularly among smallholder farmers, will make the country’s rice more attractive to international rice buyers like Mars Food in the future. IFC’s global supply chain expertise makes them a natural partner for us.”
The project further seeks to improve farmers’ adoption of climate-smart agriculture, including planting seeds, technologies, and services. It will build a sustainable rice supply chain, adopt better pesticide and fertilizer practices, and employ better post-harvest methods.
“The aim is to integrate small farmers and SMEs into a more effective rice value chain by providing them with better access to improved inputs, technology, knowledge, and markets, better firm linkages and training,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC country manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR. “Building on our earlier support to Cambodia’s rice sector, this project will further help the industry achieve its full potential by boosting its export of traceable, sustainable, and high-quality rice products.”