The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced new partnerships with three Cambodian private agricultural companies. More than $4 million will be invested in expanding the economic opportunities and access to domestic and international markets of smallholder farmers.

A February 14 press release by the US embassy said the total investment was up to $4.4 million, and that more than half of the capital came from direct investment by the three enterprises, BRM Agro, Khmer Organic Cooperative and Leang Leng Enterprises.

“Working in partnership with these companies directly supports USAID’s goal of mitigating financial risks to companies that dare to implement innovative solutions that encourage investment in agriculture,” said Hanh Nguyen, USAID acting mission director.

“It will help to increase farmers’ incomes and increase the availability of quality, safe Cambodian agricultural products in local and international markets,” she added.

Chan Ang, CEO of BRM Agro, said that during the two-year partnership, the company would invest in rice production and rice mills in Kampong Thom province. He said support from USAID will enable the company to build larger rice milling facilities, thus increasing its volume of high-quality fragrant rice exports.

He added that the company works with farmers in an area of about 5,000ha.

“Our mills are small, so the volume of rice we could process was limited. By adding more equipment, we can contract with more farmers, to buy more rice,” he explained.

He said the project would cost about $1 million. Almost half of the project would be funded by USAID.

Nuon Tum, business development manager of the Khmer Organic Cooperative, said his company would use the funds raised to expand its cold storage and packaging facilities. In this way, it could increase its capacity to meet local market demand for organic products.

“We predict a steady increase in the demand for organic vegetables, and we aim to meet that demand. We will also fine tune our processing and packaging, and will standardise the quality of our produce,” he added.

“This expansion also means we will contract with more farmers and provide them with training. This will increase the domestic supply of high quality produce, and reduce imports,” he continued.

He said that the cooperative currently supports 12 communities, and has plans to expand into 30 more.

Leang Leng Enterprises manufacture fish sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce, soy bean sauce and oyster sauce. They supply restaurants, supermarkets and families, and have invest in chili sauce production systems. The expansion has led to the company contracting with farmers in five additional provinces.

The partnerships are part of the US government’s Feed the Future Initiative. The programme is a global initiative that intends to respond to famine and food security, while broadly supporting USAID’s efforts in Cambodia to promote economic development through partnerships with the private sector.