February 10, 2022
PHNOM PENH – The UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries – together with higher education institutions (HEIs) and industry insiders – have officially launched the Food Technology, Research and Innovation Platform (FTP) to promote the development of fishery products in Cambodia.
The platform was initiated by the UNIDO-CAPFish project – with the financial support of the EU – to establish an innovative, multi-stakeholder collaborative mechanism between government organisations, HEIs and the private sector.
As an innovative public-academia-private partnership, the FTP will further bolster capacities in applied research of Cambodian HEIs to serve the post-harvest fishery production sector in particular and the food production sector in general, a joint press statement said.
It said the FTP also supports Cambodia’s strengthening of its innovation system, thereby contributing to realising economic base diversification. This is aligned with Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-25 to diversify its economic base for growth by accounting for export of fishery products to reach 12 per cent of all processed agricultural export products by 2025.
The fishery sector has huge potential in contributing to the diversification of the Kingdom’s economic base, given the abundance of resources it has and the value added potential it inherits, it said.
Cambodia in 2021 harvested in nearly 860,000 tonnes of fisheries products – with a total value of $1.7 billion – which means that Cambodia earned just $2 per kilogramme from its fishery products.
A lack of innovation and value addition from the private sector in fishery processing has prevented it from fully reaping the economic benefits of its resources.
Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said there was significant progress by HEIs in research and innovation in the last five years.
“The contribution of HEIs to research and innovation corresponds with the current growth of aquaculture in Cambodia, which is at 20 per cent annually. This could be a missed opportunity if our aquaculture resources are not used to reach their full potential,” he said.
Diversification of fishery products that correspond to market demands is key to driving the economic growth of the country, particularly in support of Cambodia’s fishery exports to China and EU markets,” he added.
EU ambassador to Cambodia Carmen Moreno, who attended the launch, said fishery resources in Cambodia were limited in value addition and product diversification, due to a lack of innovation which led to poor competitiveness. More innovations are needed to add value and reduce post-harvest losses, she noted.
“The proposed FTP of the CAPFish programme will play a key role in boosting research and development, product innovation, knowledge transfer and overall development across the value chain,” she said.
Ali Badarneh, UNIDO chief of the sustainable food systems division, said the establishment of the platform should provide a good solution for Cambodia to tackle challenges in its aquaculture businesses, which are limited in their economic contributions, despite the country’s known abundance of raw materials.
He added that the Kingdom imported many fishery products which could just as easily been produced locally.
“With the financial support of the EU, the FTP platform should lead to much-needed research, product innovation and sustainable development in the fisheries sector of Cambodia,” he said.