Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cambodian parliament passes farmers' cooperative law

Xinhua | 2013-5-9-Cambodia's National Assembly on Thursday adopted a law on farmers' cooperatives in order to support government policies in bolstering the agricultural sector, particularly paddy production and milled rice exports.

Eighty out of the 83 lawmakers who were present at the parliament session approved the law.

The law would allow farmers to organize themselves in legally recognized cooperatives, which could improve their market position and increase access to financial and technical support.

According to the law, a cooperative can be established by at least 15 people working in farming and agricultural business.

Under the law, the government would find financial institutions that could offer credit to farmers through the cooperatives, allowing farmers to get loans without collateral as the cooperative would guarantee the loans of its members.

"The law would give advantages to farmers that joined a cooperative," Minister of Agriculture Chan Sarun said during the parliament session. "Farmers unified in a cooperative would be in a stronger position to sell their produce."

The minister said since 2003, the Ministry of Agriculture has established 375 agricultural communities throughout the country with 35,630 members and a total capital of 2.25 million US dollars.

"Currently, agricultural communities are playing an important role to help the government promote paddy production and milled rice exports," he said.

"The communities will improve food security, reduce starvation and bolster economic and social development."

Cambodia is an agrarian country. More than 80 percent of the population is farmers. The Ministry of Agriculture announced in January that the country produced 9.31 million tons of paddy rice last year. Of this amount, besides local consumptions, the nation had around 3 million tons of milled rice left over for export this year.

Chan Sarun said the country had exported about 210,000 tons of rice in the first four months of this year.

"With this figure, I am optimistic that the country will be able to achieve the goal of exporting one million tons of milled rice a year from 2015."

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