Capping off the Food Safety Week, a Knowledge Sharing Forum on Food Safety Promotion in Cambodia was organized at Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh last November 8. The event gathered sixty MI alumni representing government agencies, private sector, and academic and research institutions.
The forum served as a venue for participants from eight PROSAFE regional training programs to exchange experiences and learn from each other. The forum provided the participants with better understanding of the food safety situation and food control system in Cambodia. Moreover, the forum established a strong network among Cambodian MI food safety alumni to discuss and explore possible areas for future collaboration.
Food safety has been a long-standing public health issue in Cambodia. Food safety and quality control is implemented by different ministries and departments in a piecemeal manner. The lack of inter-ministerial communication and coordination poses a challenge in strengthening food safety implementation in the country.
H.E. Mr. Dim Theng, Advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and Deputy Director General of Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate General (Camcontrol), welcomed and thanked the participants for attending the forum. He then echoed the food safety issues in the country, “Food safety remains as a complex issue in Cambodia, presenting inevitable challenges to the government, regulators, food processors, and international trading partners. Limited capacities and facilities as well as the lack of public awareness are among the contributing factors to this problem,” he said.
“To address and prevent such issues, stronger collaboration and implementation is required. Currently, the food safety law is in the process of getting approval from the National Assembly, which will also pave the way for establishment of the Food Safety Authority,” he added. “We remain positive that these measures will ensure food safety at all stages of the supply chain, and consequently lead to increased international trade and protection of consumer health.”
Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department of MI, acknowledged the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP) for funding the five-year project aimed at promoting food safety in CLMV. She then provided a brief background of the PROSAFE Project and its key activities including delivery of safe food courses that address various challenges along the food supply chain, as well as providing post-training outreach support to its participants.
She explained that developing and maintaining a national food control system requires concrete action and cooperation among food safety government agencies, food industries, universities and research institutions. “The system should provide a basis for mutual trust toward protecting consumer health, and developing sustainable ways of producing and manufacturing agri-food products,” she added.
Four speakers representing different ministries presented Cambodia’s food safety control system, focusing on different stages of the value chain – production and primary processing (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), processing (Ministry of Industry and Handicraft), distribution and markets (Ministry of Commerce), and consumption stage (Ministry of Health). Two presenters from the private sector discussed research findings on stakeholders’ perception on the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and challenges and opportunities of SME integration in regional and global value chains.
The forum concluded with the consensus of establishing a food safety stakeholders network among Cambodia MI-PROSAFE alumni. Committed to promoting a culture of safe food, all of the participants expressed eagerness to keep the network active, interesting, and sustainable.