IFC Partners with Mars Food to Promotes Sustainable Rice Production in Cambodia

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and Mars Food and Battambang Rice Investment Co., Ltd (BRICo), launched a partnership to promote sustainable development of Cambodia’s rice industry. Improving rice production and enhancing linkages with the global rice value chain will help Cambodia’s agri-sector expand market access, increase export value, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Rice is Cambodia’s most important produce, engaging 80 percent of farmers. Cambodia’s rice exports have grown tenfold since 2010, thanks to raised industry standards, improved efficiency of rice millers and re-processors, and streamlining of export procedures, among others. However, the sector has scopes to further increase the rice export value by improving rice yield and quality, adopting sustainable farming and processing practices, and enhancing value chain linkages. In addition, with climate change threats, there is an urgent need to shift to a more sustainable way of growing rice.

IFC and Mars Food, owner of the world’s largest rice brand UNCLE BEN’S®, along with its local rice supplier Battambang Rice Investment Co., Ltd (BRICo) — a rice mill from Cambodia’s rice bowl of Battambang — kick-started the advisory project today. By helping farmers conform to agricultural standards and practices developed by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) and improving famers’ adoption of technology and climate smart agriculture practices, the project is expected to result in a 20 percent increase in yield and a 25 percent increase in income by 2025. Over the next three years, about 9,000 smallholder farmers will benefit from exposure to sustainable farming practices, climate smart agriculture technologies and financial literacy training disseminated by the project.

“This partnership with IFC, and Mars’ commitment to sustainable sourcing, is a key part of Mars’ Sustainable in a Generation Plan. We strive for all of our high-quality rice to be sourced from farmers working toward the Sustainable Rice Platform standard. IFC’s work to advance sustainability in Cambodia’s rice sector, particularly among smallholder farmers, will make the country’s rice more attractive to international rice buyers like Mars Food in the future, said Luc Beerens, Global Sustainable Sourcing Director at Mars Food. “IFC’s global supply chain expertise make them a natural partner for us.” 

The project further seeks to improve farmers’ adoption of climate smart agriculture including planting seeds, technologies, and services. It will build a sustainable rice supply chain, adopt better pesticide and fertilizer practices, and employ better post-harvest methods. 

“The aim is to integrate small farmers and SMEs into a more effective rice value chain by providing them with better access to improved inputs, technology, knowledge and markets, better firm linkages and training,” said Kyle Kelhofer, IFC Country Manager for Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR. “Building on our earlier support to Cambodia’s rice sector, this project will further help the industry achieve its full potential by boosting its export of traceable, sustainable, and high-quality rice products.” 

IFC has been supporting Cambodia’s rice sector over the past few years by helping to add value along every step of the supply chain, with key interventions at the farming, milling and export stages. With IFC’s support, the country’s premium jasmine rice won the “World’s Best Rice” award in 2012 and 2013 at the Rice Trader World Rice Conference.

About IFC 
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. In FY17, we delivered a record $19.3 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to help end poverty and boost shared prosperity.

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