The Mondulkiri provincial organic pepper agriculture association have received a grant from the Cambodia Agricultural Sector Diversification Project (CASDP), in order to support the community’s path to becoming agricultural entrepreneurs.

CASDP is an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries.

With the October 2 signing of the agreement– which took place in Putang village, in Pech Chreada’s Puchrey commune – the pepper association became the 19th community to receive CASDP funding.

The agreement will see the association receive investment capital of $54,587, equivalent to 40 per cent of the total investment planned for the three-year project, scheduled to run from 2023-2025.

Hean Vanhorn, ministry secretary of state and chair of the CASDP committee, explained at the ceremony that the community has raised about 60 per cent of the $270,000 in planned capital. In addition, an $870,000 asphalt and concrete road is scheduled for construction in the area, improving the transport infrastructure available to the community.

“Strengthening the capacity of agriculture communities so they can become entrepreneurs was recommended by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina, and is in accordance with the agricultural policy of the new government of the seventh mandate,” he said.

Kris Song, chairman of the pepper association’s board of directors, said on October 3 that the grant was part of the ministry’s efforts– in collaboration with the World Bank – to address some of the challenges facing his farming community.

“Our challenges include a lack of access to modern technical innovations that will increase organic pepper production, insufficient capital to expand our business to meet market demand and a lack of transport routes to bring our products from our plantations to the national road network,” he explained.

He said the community has three specific business plans. First, it wants to promote the participation of more community members, to gain investment support and market stability. Second, it plans to expand sales volume from 100 tonnes in 2023 to 110 in 2024 and 120 in 2025. Third, it aims to create 16 job opportunities at the community level and 22 at the farm level, as this will reduce poverty, improve nutrition and eradicate gender inequality in the community.