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Agri-diversity key to economic stability: Ministry report

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Thoeun Srey Ny stands among her various fish products on July 5. VOUN DARA

Agri-diversity key to economic stability: Ministry report

Diversification of agricultural products in accordance with quality and safety standards is an important strategy for maintaining the stability of the national economy, and the private sector plays an important role in the production of high quality, safe goods for domestic distribution and export, creating a flow of domestic and international currency.

This in turn ensures macroeconomic stability, increases productivity thanks to economies of scale and increases market competitiveness.

The benefits, whether to small, medium or large businesses, are helping to generate local incomes as well as provide products and services to the local population.

According to the Cambodia Inter-Censual Economic Survey, in 2014 there were 513,759 enterprises, of which 97.6 per cent were small enterprises.

These small enterprises all employ at least one or two people, and average 3.6 employees. They provide up to 92 per cent of the Kingdom’s total employment, according to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Lim Ponny, the 46-year-old owner of the Thoeun Srey Ny Fish processing plant in Soutip commune’s Thmey village of Kampong Cham province’s Cheung Prey district, has been running her family business for more than 10 years.

Because of the high quality and good hygiene practices of her company, she has expanded her business into one of the most famous fish processing enterprises in the village. She purchases fish from local fishermen, processes it and ships it to markets in Phnom Penh the other provinces adjacent to Kampong Cham.

Currently, her fish business can process one tonne of fresh catfish fish into dried fish per day, and employs 10 local workers. About 500 to 600kg of finished products are produced each month.

“My enterprise produces dried fish, fish paste and fermented fish, but we focus mainly on the production of dried fish. All of the fish were purchased from people from Cheung Prey district,” she said.

She said that in the beginning she thought it was easy for anyone to process dried fish, so she focused on good hygiene a high quality product, so as to set her business apart.

“I like this business and thanks to my high standards, we are still trading,” she said.

She said that one kind of fish sold for 40,000 riel per kg if more than 10kg was purchased and 37,000 per kg if more than 50kg was ordered.

Catfish was more valuable, with small orders paying 50,000 riel per kilo; larger orders were charged 45,000.

Because her products adhere to high standards of hygiene and quality, her fish processing business was chosen to receive support from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the EU and UNIDO through the CAPFISH project. The investment of the post-Harvest Development Project (VCIS), in plant used in her operation, was $25,000.

“I received this investment package because of the quality of my products, and because I am correctly registered with the ministry,” she said.

“Through this investment package, I aspire to process my dried fish to even higher standards of quality and hygiene,” she added.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon, spoke at the July 5 handover ceremony of the investment package. He said the private sector has been facing many problems, including high operating costs, quality control issues, lack of investment, and poor quality of raw materials. Some small enterprises were unable to meet food safety standards, he added.

He said that in order to contribute to solving these problems, it was very important to provide financial and technical support to the private sector.

“I want to emphasise that without the private sector, Cambodia could not export to foreign markets and the government could not achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, the government, development partners and donors must work together to support the private sector,” he said.

He said that in the past, the government had set out a number of strategies to help the private sector and was also preparing a number of policies to promote its recovery in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

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