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PHNOM PENH-- Cambodia's Agriculture Ministry and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Tuesday launched a project to directly support 10,000 of the most vulnerable people affected by the COVID-19 crisis in northwest Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces.
The 20-month project aims to restore their livelihoods and improve their resilience to the crisis, a joint press statement said, adding that it will help the most vulnerable groups, including poor and vulnerable households, small-scale farmers, returning migrant workers and unemployed casual workers.
"The poor and vulnerable households are facing severe income shocks, as most of them rely on diverse sources including on-farm activities, wage labor, non-agricultural activities, and national and international remittance," the statement said. "The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted all of these employment opportunities."
The Cambodian government has launched the nationwide cash transfer program to help the poor and vulnerable people meet their immediate needs. However, during this most challenging time, economically vulnerable groups strongly require extra support, it added.
The statement said the project will focus on rehabilitation of basic community infrastructure, provision of agriculture inputs and assets for production, and improved access to financial service and strengthened technical capacity to enhance production.
Speaking at the launching ceremony in Phnom Penh, the Agriculture Ministry's Secretary General Srey Vuthy was confident that the project would respond to critical needs of rural farmers in restoring their livelihoods.
"Helping from the project coupled with existing efforts and other collaborations will allow Cambodia to transform COVID-19 crisis into opportunity to increase agriculture productivity, to promote local safe and quality agricultural products for both household consumption and to reduce import," he said.
Alexandre Huynh, FAO representative in Cambodia, said the project will focus its interventions on transforming agriculture toward nutrition sensitive, placing its significance on food-based approach to ensure that a diverse nutritional rich food is produced and consumed.
"Therefore, the project will also improve value chain system, connecting farmers to private retails outlets and better access to domestic markets, while raising public awareness on the quality and safety of local products," he said.