In celebration of World Food Safety Day, Mekong Institute (MI) and the Center of Excellence on Sustainable Agricultural Intensification and Nutrition (CE SAIN) held a Food Safety Forum: Driving the Growth of the Cambodian Agri-food Sector through Increased Food Standards Compliance on June 7, 2023 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“The developments in food safety regulations and standards are continually evolving around the world. As a developing nation, Cambodia will need to keep pace with these changes to boost its agri-food competitiveness,” Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of Agricultural Development and Commercialization of MI, stated during her opening remarks, as she underscored the importance of meeting international food safety and quality standards to leverage Cambodian’s product potential. She encouraged the attendees to take advantage of the forum to share ideas and insights on how to drive the growth of the country’s agri-food sector through increased adherence to food standards.
In his welcome message, His Excellency Sok Silo, Secretary-General of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD), said that the government is actively playing its role in formulating policies, laws and a regulatory framework that will advance safer food for better health and well-being of Cambodians. He added that the country is developing its roadmap to fulfill its commitment to continue contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals.
Bringing together almost 90 food safety key actors from various sectors, the forum featured a keynote address from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which highlighted the importance of food safety in promoting food security and ensuring public health.
Speakers for the session on the current national regulatory framework on food safety and quality came from four of the Ministries responsible for food safety in Cambodia, namely His Excellency Chan Sopha, Director-General of the Institute of Standards of Cambodia, Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation; His Excellency Dim Theng, Deputy Director-General of the Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression, Ministry of Commerce; His Excellency Mak Soeun, Deputy Director-General of the General Directorate of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Mr. Chim Tony, Food Inspector at the Food Safety Bureau, Ministry of Health. The discussion focused on the role of government agencies and current efforts in promoting food safety in Cambodia, and the support provided to address food SMEs’ needs.
The second session featured universities, development organizations, and the private sector, including UNIDO, Purdue University USA, Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC), Royal University of Agriculture (RUA), and Eco-Agri Co., Ltd. The panel members showcased food safety projects and private sector-led initiatives being implemented in Cambodia. The panel discussion focused on best practices and lessons learned and highlighted the support available for food businesses that wish to acquire certification to access foreign markets. The importance of involving different sectors in meeting international food standards for better trade opportunities was likewise emphasized.
The closing address of Dr. Lyda Hok, Center Director of CE SAIN, stressed the importance of a coordinated effort to ensure the safety and quality of food products, beginning from farmers to consumers. He solicited the commitment of stakeholders to work together and address the challenges and opportunities in the food industry to further build the food safety culture in Cambodia.
The event was held under PROSAFE or Promoting Safe Food for Everyone project of MI being supported by the New Zealand Aid Programme.