Washington [US]: US State Secretary Antony Blinken on Wednesday (local time) announced USD 25 million USAID aid to Cambodia to improve food security and nutrition.
The aid comes on the sidelines of the 55th meeting of the foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) which began on Wednesday in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh to discuss COVID-19 recovery and regional issues. “Today, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced a new USAID-led Feed the Future project called “Harvest III” during a critical time when a food insecurity crisis threatens Southeast Asia,” a USAID press release said.
The project will support Cambodia’s economic growth and food security through private sector engagement by creating better jobs, diversifying diets, and improving the well-being of Cambodians, especially women, youth, and marginalized populations.
More than 60 per cent of Cambodians live in rural areas and rely on agriculture, fisheries, and forestry for their livelihoods. These rural Cambodians are particularly vulnerable to climate shocks, including temperature fluctuations, changes in rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, 45 per cent of Cambodians live in moderate or severe food insecurity.
Harvest III is a five-year, up to USD 25 million project that promotes inclusive, sustainable economic growth by modernizing and diversifying Cambodia’s agriculture sector, helping farmers improve how they grow and market their produce, and connecting them with new buyers and international markets previously inaccessible to rural communities.
The activity will also help families build resilience in the face of growing climate threats and the current global food, fertilizer, and fuel crisis.
Harvest III builds on the results of its predecessor, HARVEST II (2017-2022), which generated USD 28 million in new private sector investments, created more than 2,500 jobs, supported the development of national agriculture policies to promote market access and improve standards, and helped develop 140 new agricultural products for domestic and international markets, generating over USD 75 million of incremental sales.
Since 2010, U.S. agricultural investments in Cambodia through the USAID-led Feed the Future Initiative have helped 200,000 farmers increase their production and sales of fruits, vegetables, rice, and fish, and contributed to a 10 per cent reduction in childhood stunting over the last eight years through improved, diversified diets.
HARVEST III reaffirms the U.S. commitment to improve food security and bolster economic growth with the help of the private sector, promoting climate-smart, sustainable agricultural practices that will improve the lives of rural Cambodians for many years to come, the press release added.