Agri-Business Program Invests in Rural Youth

The Cambodian Center for Study and Development in Agri­culture, or CEDAC, has launched a new two-year program to train 300 youths in five provinces in agri-business.

The Young Agri-Entrepreneur Program will train youths in commercial farming and business in an effort to promote rural development and increase rural youth employment in Kampot, Kompong Speu, Kompong Chhnang, Svay Rieng and Takeo provinces, CEDAC’s Institute for Rural Development Director Sam Vitou said Tuesday.

“Most of the young people in the rural areas who leave high school can’t find a job,” he said, “especially those who can’t go to Phnom Penh or can’t follow higher education.”

The five provinces were selected because they are populous and youth unemployment is high, he said, adding that the possibilities for selling agricultural products to markets in the provinces were favorable.

The program will teach the youths, between 18 and 25 years old, environmentally friendly farming, farm management and business techniques. In particular, participants will be trained in the production of agricultural products such as chickens, piglets, ducks and seedlings, Sam Vitou said.

CEDAC will train and guide participants in developing and financing a business plan, he said. If necessary, trainees will also be able to take a loan of up to $500 from CEDAC to get started. Trainees take a loan of $300 to join the program, to be paid back in five years, Sam Vitou added.

The program—funded through a $240,000 grant from the German Ecumenical Scholarship Program

—also aims to prepare participants for a significant role in their rural communities, such as performing jobs with agricultural NGOs. Many of the program graduates will be employed by CEDAC as trainers for new participants during the second program year, Sam Vitou said.

Chhay Nop, a 26-year-old train­ee who enrolled in a pilot project of the new program in January, said it was important to learn about agri-business.

“I am an ordinary farmer with little land, so without help, I can only grow daily food for myself,” he said.

“It is important for people in the village to get more products [to sell], so it can reduce the number of migrant workers in the village,” said the young farmer from Kom­pong Speu province’s Baset district.

Oum Mean, undersecretary of state of the Ministry of Labor, said he appreciated CEDAC’s training and added that the government is also undertaking projects to provide work training to rural youths.

He said, however, that rural youth unemployment is actually low because of the high demand for labor in garment factories and on construction sites in the capital.

Seng Rithy, chief coordinator of the Khmer Youth Association’s Advocacy unit, said that unemployment rates for rural youth are unavailable, but added that during KYA workshops and youth camps in the countryside youths complained about the lack of job opportunities.

(Additional reporting by Neou Vannarin)

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