Further JICA Support Hinges On Fertilizer Scandal

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has said that its future support of agricultural development in Cambodia depends on the outcome of an investigation into a provincial official accused of embezzling funds from JICA-donated fertilizer. The accused, deputy bureau chief of Battambang’s department of agriculture Seng Ratanak, has implicated two of his superiors in the scam, which saw some $200,000 misappropriated and has caused JICA to question its operations in Cambodia’s agricultural sector. “Our future support of 2KR [a grant aid scheme aimed at increasing food production in Cambodia] would depend on how much the current monitoring system is improved,” said Yukiko Kitazawa, head of public relations for JICA, when asked by email how the scam could effect Japanese involvement in such projects. “We have already met officials in charge in the Ministry [of Agriculture] and asked them to send us a written report to recount all the facts and causes as well as to describe their measures to prevent such misconduct from happening,” she said. … [Battambang provincial agriculture department director] Mr. [Chhim] Vicheara said Tuesday that departmental changes will be made to appease JICA and ensure there is no repeat of the fertilizer scam. “We have created a committee, including members of the Ministry of Agriculture, to investigate,” he [Chhim Vicheara] said. …

Matt Blomberg and Eang Mengleng