The government has suspended fish exports in an effort to stabilise domestic supply in the face of the spreading coronavirus.
In a Telegram message to leaders of the National Committee for Combating Covid-19, as well as government leaders and stakeholders on Saturday, Prime Minister Hun Sen decided to impose measures banning fish exports to avoid food shortages for locals and stabilise fish prices.
“To avoid rising fish prices, fish should be kept at home and banned from export to international markets. We previously announced a ban on only paddy and white rice but now we should ban fish exports because we can keep them and sell them at our markets,” he said.
The ban is the government’s next move in maintaining ample food stocks. The ban on paddy and white rice exports went into effect on Sunday.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Sunday that the government’s measures to increase domestic stockpiles are crucial to furthering Cambodia’s food security.
This, he said, will prevent shortages and price increases as the Kingdom responds to the pandemic. “This is a wonderful measure because if Covid-19 spreads, we may suffer from food shortages.”
However, no specific date has been determined as the fish exports ban’s effective date, he said, adding that the ministry is set to meet with the Ministry of Economy and Finance on Monday to address the issue.
Meanwhile, he said his ministry is currently fortifying and expanding fish farming for local needs.
Every year, Cambodia exports a small amount of freshwater fisheries to neighbouring countries, while importing a substantial amount of seafood products to cater to restaurant demands he said. The Kingdom imported 130,000 tonnes of seafood last year.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance on Friday issued a decision on the “establishment of an ad hoc working group for supply management and strategic goods during Covid-19”.
The working group will comprise representatives of the ministries of Economy and Finance; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Health; Commerce; Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Green Trade Company, and the Agricultural and Rural Development Bank.
The working group will be given key tasks such as identifying the strategic commodities that best serve daily life; monitoring the status of their demand, supply and prices and ensure their viability and sustainability; and responding to a disruption to their supply chain.
Last year, the Kingdom exported 9,190 tonnes of fresh fish products, down 3.4 per cent from 2018’s 8,880 tonnes, and 4,910 tonnes of processed fish products, down 1.8 per cent from 2018’s 4,820 tonnes, said a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report.
The Kingdom harvested 478,850 tonnes of freshwater fisheries last year and 122,250 tonnes of marine fisheries, it said. Aquaculture, fish and shrimp farming accounted for 307,408 tonnes of freshwater fisheries.