FAO in Cambodia

Cambodia Partners with FAO to Build Rural Enterprises through Banking

FAO rural finance coordinator Vong Chhim Vannak, right), reviews the IGRF’s financial record

Cambodia – In the fight against rural poverty, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) continue to strengthen their partnership to improve agriculture and rural communities through the Project for Agriculture Development and Economic Empowerment (PADEE), funded through the FAO Unilateral Trust Fund mechanism.

PADEE aims to improve agricultural productivity and diversify rural incomes by providing the rural poor access to financial services, technologies and markets in 984 villages in Cambodia’s five lowland Mekong provinces. Poor households are often neglected by microfinance initiatives owing to their illiteracy and generally poor education, lack of financial skills and a lack of collateral.

FAO’s main role in the project is to help establish farmer-owned Improved Group Revolving Funds (IGRFs) by focusing on financial literacy and reliable bookkeeping. To achieve this, FAO developed a financial literacy curriculum, trained the trainers and now supervises the interventions.  In order to facilitate gathering and analyzing financial data, FAO uses the existing MicroBanking System for Windows (MBWin). The FAO-GTZ MBWin is a banking software grounded in best practices and based on experiences from previous FAO projects in other countries.

The system was designed to support the established saving groups and manage the expenses of their enterprises. A user-friendly tool that is used to analyze financial data including client loan tracking, projections and budgeting, MBWin is customized to provide basic financial services to the IGRFs with the information gathered every month by mobile field agents on their laptops.

By 2018 some 49 200 beneficiaries, the majority of whom are women, should benefit from improved financial services and decision-making for investments in agriculture and other income-generating activities.

As the world’s leading technical expertise agency in agriculture and rural development, FAO provides tailor-made solutions to the specific development needs of governments. Through the FAO Unilateral Trust Fund, Cambodia directly funds PADEE and collaborates closely with partner agencies to achieve national development objectives. 

PADEE is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with FAO, the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and International Development Enterprises (iDE) as partners. The project involves multiple sectors on every level from national to communal in agriculture, microfinance and business development.

"We value the partnership with FAO and all other partners in implementing the PADEE initiatives to support the livelihoods of the people in rural areas of Cambodia," said Mam Amnot, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

For beneficiaries like Sokhan Yeun, the PADEE project makes a real difference in terms of personal development as well as in her community. “Before the IGRFs existed, we constantly ran out of money and couldn’t expand our business activities,” said farmer Sokhan Yeun. “With the initial capital base from PADEE, we are finally saving money because we are learning how to manage money better.”