November 7, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Manet has shared his pride in Cambodia’s high-quality food systems. He noted that while many nations around the world are facing food insecurity, the Kingdom has not only achieved food security, but has taken the opportunity to strengthen its food systems and even supply quality agriculture and food products to global markets.
Manet issued a statement a day ahead of Cambodia’s 10th National Nutrition Day. This year’s November 6 celebrations are being held under the theme “Strengthening Food Systems in the Context of Climate Change”.
The premier’s letter explained that the theme was carefully selected to ensure it is in line with the 28th Summit of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will convene from November 30 to December 12 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The summit will provide an opportunity for each member state to demonstrate their commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
He explained that every stage of food production causes an increase in the production of greenhouse gas, which have a serious impact on the environment and contribute to climate change. Those activities include not only production, but processing, packaging, transportation, consumption and waste management.
Manet warned that climate change leads to an increase in extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, storms and heat waves, all of which affect agriculture, biodiversity, irrigation systems, infrastructure, schools, hospitals and homes, as well as public health and nutrition, especially to the most vulnerable members of society, such as women and girls.
“While some countries around the world are faced with food insecurity and the effects of climate change, Cambodia has not only avoided a food crisis, but also grasped the opportunity to strengthen our food systems. We now produce and supply high-quality, safe agriculture products – in particular, rice – to many regional and global markets,” he said.
“Moreover, thanks to the foundation of peace and stability that has been achieved because of the commitment and will of the government, [we] strongly believe that we will achieve our 2030 Food System Vision,” he added.
The prime minister explained that his government will enforce the 2023-28 strategy, which is part of the first phase of the Pentagonal Strategy. It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the promotion of sustainable food systems, green development, green credits and carbon markets. The government will also support climate change adaptation through the reduction of vulnerability impact.
He stressed that no one would be left behind, or allowed to suffer, by his government.
Manet made several recommendations on actions that specific ministries and institutions should take in order to contribute to the government’s vision.
He told the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) to work with all pertinent partners to implement the Roadmap for Food Systems for a Sustainable Cambodia 2030, and ordered the preparation of the Third National Strategy on Food Security and Nutrition 2024-28, which will strengthen social security and food systems.
The Ministry of Information will instruct state and private media – as well as social media users – to produce content related to food systems, nutrition and climate change.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will expand its research on new technologies, like agricultural techniques, seeds and animals that are resilient to climate change, while focusing on agricultural diversification, and the production of nutritious, organic foods that will contribute to public health and well-being.
He also told them to continue to protect natural conservation areas, eco-tourism communities and continue their “1 million trees planted a year” campaign, while working to ensure the Kingdom achieves its 2050 carbon neutrality goal.
The Committee for Food Reserve System will continue to improve Cambodia’s food reserves and prepare effective and efficient interventions for any members of the public who need additional support in the wake of a natural disaster.
“All ministries and institutions working in food security and safety from the field to the table must work together. They should be aiming to ensure that food losses and wastage that occur during the production chain and packaging phases are reduced as much as possible. Guidelines and instructions on the importance of food safety should be shared as widely as possible, so all key stakeholders – including the public – are aware of what is expected from them,” he said.
Several international organisations, including Germany’s development agency GIZ, UNICEF and BBC Media Action are also planning to celebrate the National Nutrition Day in Phnom Penh on November 6.
A recent joint press release detailed how climate change is already having a significant impact on food production and nutrition in Cambodia.
“Extreme weather events such as droughts and floods are becoming more frequent and severe, damaging crops and disrupting food supply chains. This is making it more difficult for people to access the nutritious food they need and is increasing the risk of malnutrition,” it said.
Citing the 2022 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS 2022), the organiations said malnutrition is a serious challenge in Cambodia, with 22 per cent of children under 5 stunted.
“Climate change is aggravating the situation by disrupting food production and access to nutritious food. Both challenges need to be urgently addressed in order to ensure that all Cambodians have access to the nutrients they need to live healthy and productive lives,” it said.