Mekong Institute (MI), in collaboration with Cambodia’s Consumer Protection, Competition, and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) and Cambodian Food Manufacturers Association (CFMA) organized the Food Safety Forum on Challenges and Coping Strategies for Food Enterprises in the Time of COVID-19 at Cambodiana Hotel in Phnom Penh on September 22, 2020.
The current pandemic has resulted to immediate, serious, and widescale human health issues including in Cambodia. Government efforts to control the outbreak in the country, such as quarantine measures and other restrictions, have also caused major disruptions in local food supply chains. These disease control measures, together with the existing food safety challenges faced by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have seen to drive up food prices as the pandemic makes it harder for food producers to access production inputs and reach markets.
Speaking at the forum, Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization, underscored the importance of applying a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to support the food industry in addressing disrupted supply chains, reduced consumer consumption, as well as limited access to sourcing raw products and maintenance services. “We must continue to work together and deliver a unified response in strengthening the industry’s resiliency during the pandemic.”
H.E. Mr. Dim Theng, Advisor to the Ministry of Commerce and CCF Deputy Directorate-General, echoed the importance of maintaining committed partnerships to support food businesses, particularly SMEs. “They are our growth engines and line of defense in ensuring low-income consumers can access safe and nutritious food during this crisis.”
In addition, Mr. Theng stated that “collaborations such as this Forum are proactive steps in helping the industry increase food production outputs, adapt better business e-strategies, and strengthen health protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”
Thirty-five SMEs representing the country’s food processing industry participated in the one-day forum. Industry representatives were present at the event to share their experiences, especially on the impact of the ongoing global health crisis in the food business. Mr. Song Khenglean of the CFMA spoke on the challenges and opportunities for Cambodia’s food manufacturing industry as they face the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, H.E. Mr. Chhea Layhy, Director of SME Development Division under the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology, and Innovation, discussed the government’s strategies for post-pandemic response and recovery among SMEs.
The forum was also organized to strengthen the food safety stakeholder network in the country especially among smallholder producers and food enterprises. Representatives from successful exporting agro-companies, such as Confirel Co., Ltd. and Hyundai Agro (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., were at the event to share essential market information and best practices.
The PROSAFE Project is anchored on ensuring safety and quality standards throughout all stages of the supply chain. Aside from managing food safety risks at the onset, particularly in the agri-food chain, the Project also covers postharvest safe food handling practices, food hygiene and sanitation, food safety management tools, food emergency management, and raising public awareness. To learn more, please visit http://www.mekonginstitute.org/what-we-do/ongoing-projects/food-safety-capability-project/