The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, together with the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), is orchestrating a request to the EU’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to evaluate Cambodia’s food protection system by 2024. As early as next month, UNIDO will introduce four potential enterprises for business matching with buyers in France.

UNIDO senior technical adviser Seetharama Shetty Thombathu said that through the CAPFISH-CAPTURE project, implemented by the ministry alongside UNIDO, there is close collaboration with the EFSA. He said that all stakeholders have convened multiple times to facilitate the invitation for the assessment.

Currently, the promotion of four companies is being pursued by UNIDO: Leang Leng Enterprise, Ngov Heng Kampot Fish Sauce, Cambodia Fresh Farm and Confirel.

Thombathu further noted that bringing owners of post-harvest products to Paris aims to facilitate mutual understanding between businesses and buyers. Upon completion of the assessment, the Kingdom anticipates initiating exports from these entities.

“We have cooperation from all parties, including the authorities of the Fisheries Administration [FiA], for the project. Our enterprises are well-prepared, so we are optimistic about reaching our goal of supplying the EU in the future,” he said.

He also clarified that the in-country assessment by the EFSA will encompass inspection of both the structure of the relevant authorities and the product processing company.

Leang Leng, owner of Leang Leng Enterprise, said that while there is significant demand for their products, the venture currently lacks the capacity to fulfil large orders. However, he remains hopeful about expanding potential to meet demands in global trade arenas once sufficient capital is acquired.

“The company’s resources are still limited, so we continue to follow a gradual approach. We have a clear master plan. The EU and the US are lucrative markets; gaining control in these regions would facilitate exports to other countries,” he added.

However, he highlighted existing challenges related to the procurement of fish stock, which involves significant backing. Similarly, some concerns were raised about the safety of fish procured for processing.

Addressing these challenges, ministry spokesperson Im Rachna said stakeholders are exploring potential solutions and seeking financial support to ensure a consistent supply of raw materials devoid of harmful chemicals.

“We are reaching out to more investors to establish aquiculture facilities to supply these enterprises, guaranteeing quality and safety from the start, thereby enhancing the overall calibre and taste after processing,” she said.