A senior agriculture official has suggested that the Fisheries Administration’s development partners, especially the private sector, focus on the quality of fisheries products to ensure that they are safe and competitive.
Has Sareth – secretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries which has jurisdiction over the FiA – included aquaculture sites, general sales locations and all processing facilities and exporters in his suggestion.
He was speaking at the official launch of the Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS) certification scheme, held in Phnom Penh on November 14.
“The FiA must play their part, by encouraging the private sector to implement good hygiene and quality products. This can be achieved by careful inspections,” he said.
Sareth said all businesses involved in the sector would be granted the CQS after being inspected. They should make every effort to ensure that their products remained up to standard, lest they affect the reputation of Cambodian products in the marketplace.
He also warned that any enterprises whose development partners end their support should be sure to maintain their sustainability; otherwise the quality of Cambodian fisheries products will decline.
He noted that the promulgation of the CQS scheme was in accordance with the spirit of ministry prakas No 565, issued in 2016.
“This is an important step. We hope it will help push the fisheries sector, especially the processing industry, to improve and develop their production systems and seize new opportunities in the domestic and international markets,” he added.
Shetty Seetharam Tthampathou, technical adviser of the Post-Harvest Fisheries Development Project – implemented by the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) – said the CSQ scheme was drawn up by his project, with financing from the EU and support from UNIDO. It would be implemented by the FiA.
“Cambodia’s fisheries industry is very culturally and historically important. Water and fish are deeply rooted in Cambodian culture. In addition, fisheries are an important source of nutrition, employment and trade, and can contribute significantly to socio-economic development,” he said.
He noted, however, that the industry also faced stiff competition from imported fisheries products. The main obstacles in the value chain are a lack of production technology and skills, as well as the limited infrastructure and poor food hygiene. These factors lead to poor consumer confidence and poor competition.
Cambodia Food Manufacturers Association president Meav Soktry said the CQS system will help to build customer confidence and increase access in both domestic and foreign markets. The CQS system will help enterprises become more competitive, profitable and sustainable.
However, he pointed out that about 95 per cent of micro, small and medium enterprises in Cambodia are unregistered, including fisheries processing businesses.
“I encourage all enterprises to support the CQS certification system to build a national brand for Cambodian fisheries products. I strongly believe that the CQS system will enhance and protect the enterprises’ reputation from product recalls due to hygeine issues – as well as financial losses,” he said.