PHNOM PENH, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The UN Development Program (UNDP) and China's Green Leader Holdings Group signed a cost sharing agreement here on Thursday to accelerate inclusive cassava market development in Cambodia.
The deal was inked between Nick Beresford, UNDP country director for Cambodia, and Michael Tse, CEO of Hong Kong-based Green Leader, in the presence of Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy Li An, and Xu Haoliang, UN assistant secretary-general and UNDP regional director for Asia and the Pacific.
Under the agreement, UNDP and Green Leader will contribute 300,000 U.S. dollars and 500,000 U.S. dollars respectively to the three-and-a-half-year project. The UNDP will be the project implementer in Cambodia's eastern region.
Sorasak said the agreement reflected a new hope and would provide substantial benefits to Cambodian farmers who depended on cassava to make their living.
"I would like to extend my strong support for the partnership between UNDP and Green Leader Holdings Group on a new project which is implemented through the cost sharing agreement," the minister said.
He said the project is the first private and public partnership initiative in the development of cassava sector in the Southeast Asian country.
Beresford said the agreement illustrated a strong commitment from UNDP and Green Leader to work together with the Ministry of Commerce to enhance the development of cassava sector.
"This cost sharing agreement reflects our solid commitment to support the Royal Government of Cambodia in moving toward a transformative change in the cassava sector toward higher value-added cassava and a reliable supply chain, bringing greater income to Cambodia's cassava farmers," he said.
Michael Tse said cassava is Cambodia's second largest agricultural crop which is grown in over 600,000 hectares of land with annual production of over 14 million tons.
The Green Leader-invested first processing plant in eastern Kratie province has commenced construction in April and is expected to be completed and commenced trial production at the end of 2018, he said.
Securing fresh cassava for factories is important to the success of the operation, Tse said, adding that the firm has worked closely with farmers through a Contract Farming Scheme.
"Entering into this cost sharing agreement with UNDP also signifies a further step forward in supporting the sustainable development of cassava through a public-private partnership," he added.