Cambodia economy has severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In these difficult times, the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank (ARDB), which is a commercial bank established to implement the policy of the Royal Government of Cambodia under the wise and ideal leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has been playing active roles in revitalizing and boosting agriculture sector as reflected in ARDB’s achievements. By the end of December 2020, ARDB disbursed loan amounting to more than USD 245 million, equivalent to the growth of 41.62% (year-on-year). The loans are disbursed to the rice sector (58.69%), raising livestock (8.9%), vegetable and fruit (10.09%), aquaculture (4.43%), sub-sector (9.34%) , microfinance institutions (0.86%), and others (7.69%). It should be noted that the loan to the rice sector is larger than other sectors because ARDB has been implementing the special fund from government to support the rice sector by providing working loans to purchase paddy rice from farmers and/or investment capital loans.
As a result, the rice sector has maintained a positive growth of 70 tonnes in exports — equivalent to USD 470 million, despite disruption of COVID-19, despite of the imposed tariffs on rice export from Cambodia by the EU and the flooding. To address the impacts of this crisis, the Royal Government of Cambodia has allocated a special fund of USD 50 million through ARDB to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural processing, agro-industrial and agriculture sectors. As a result of the execution of this financing scheme, ARBD has disbursed loans to SMEs, particularly in raising livestock (44%), vegetable and fruit (29%), aquaculture (25%), and agricultural processing and agro-industrial sector (2%). In addition, the financing scheme has contributed significantly to the creation of many direct and indirect jobs in the agriculture sector.
With the support from the Ministry of Economy and Finance as a technical and financial guardian, ARDB has been firmly implementing the 10-year roadmap–“Transformation Development Roadmap” (2019-2028), by focusing on the reforms of five key areas, including: 1) strategic plan, (2) products and services, (3) information technology, (4) operations, and (5) human resource development. As a result, ARDB managed to achieve almost all goals in Phase 1 of the roadmap (2019-2020). A remarkable milestone is that ARDB has successfully become a commercial bank after receiving a license from the National Bank of Cambodia. With this transformation, ARDB can legally engage in banking activities and can offer full banking services to customers and can support all actors in the agricultural and agro-industrial value chains.
In line with Phase 2 (2021-2023) of the10-year roadmap, the prioritized tasks of the bank include: (i) becoming a fully digital bank which the customer can utilize the services without the need to physically visit the bank, and reduce the use of paper, (ii) maximizing non-interest income, (iii) transforming farmers into entrepreneurial farmers, (iv) supporting small and medium enterprises in order to promote agricultural processing business.
On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere respect and deepest appreciation to the Royal Government of Cambodia under the wise and ideal leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia; Ministry of Economy and Finance, for technical and financial guardian; and the National Bank of Cambodia for their ongoing support.
On a final note, I would like to express my profound thanks to the Board of Directors for their continued support and valuable advice, and thanks to our staff for their hard work and dedication, and last but not least, thanks to our loyal customers and development partners for their cooperation with ARDB.