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Minister kicks off EU mission to bolster agribusiness co-op

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Agriculture minister Veng Sakhon (third left, on screen) at the Vienna Food Safety Forum as part of his five-day official mission to the EU. VENG SAKHON VIA FB

Minister kicks off EU mission to bolster agribusiness co-op

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon began a five-day official mission to the EU on October 3, “to boost cooperation in agribusiness development, quality infrastructure and food safety capacity building in agri-food systems”, according to the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

During his October 3-5 visit to Austrian capital Vienna, Sakhon is due to meet UNIDO “to enhance the cooperation in agribusiness development and quality infrastructure, including the cold chain system, to enhance the country’s capacity to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary [SPS] measures, improve export performance and facilitate regional and international markets for agri-food trade”, the UN agency said in a statement.

In the Belgian capital of Brussels from October 6-7, the minister is scheduled to meet the EU Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE) – departments under the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

There, Sakhon will “discuss the current implementation of food safety control system[s] in the fisheries sector and [the] action plan of [his ministry’s] Fisheries Administration [FiA], for the possibility of [including] Cambodia in the EU list of countries eligible to export fish and fishery products to the EU markets.

“[The minister will] also brief the DG MARE on the progress towards lifting [the] IUU red card,” the statement said, referring to a ban on fisheries exports to the EU imposed on a country due to failure to meet standards for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

FiA director-general Poum Sotha and the UNIDO CAPFish-Capture team will also form part of Sakhon’s delegation, and are “to learn about the recent developments and the best practices of the EU in implementing food safety control system[s], and to exchange lessons learned on food safety”, it added.

The statement quoted Sakhon as saying: “I hope to strengthen and expand the cooperation in agribusiness development, since the sector is largely underdeveloped and therefore, Cambodia needs more investment in post-harvest handling and processing to capture economic opportunities arising from value addition to its agricultural products.”

The minister said talks with the EU-based agencies would go over major technical barriers and other challenges confronting the fisheries trade, in pursuit of solutions designed to improve market access for Cambodian fish and fisheries products to the 27-nation European bloc, according to UNIDO.

“The FiA and UNIDO are currently implementing a five-year EU-funded project called CAPFish Capture – Post-harvest Fisheries Development. One of the expected outcomes of the project is to achieve compliance with EU food safety and market requirements.

“The project is developing an inclusive post-harvest fisheries value chain, by establishing the regulatory framework and food safety control system, as well as promoting the adoption of better practices and innovation by the private sector,” the statement said.

According to UNIDO, the project has a planned 58-month lifespan from September 1, 2019 to June 30, 2024, and a budget of €16.9 million ($16.6 million) – €16 million to be provided by the EU and €0.9 million to be co-financed by UNIDO “or other donor”.


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