The Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) secretary-general, Sok Silo, stated that food security and nutrition are important to the nation’s development and were also part of the government’s overall commitment to peace and political stability.

His remarks came at a workshop on food security and nutrition coordination in Kandal province organised by CARD on November 29.

Silo said that in a context where the world is fighting Covid-19, climate change, food security and energy problems, Cambodia has so far been able to avoid the food crisis and also strengthen its own food system by issuing measures to improve the production and supply of high quality and safe agricultural and food products to regional and global markets.

“Over the past two decades, Cambodia has achieved a lot in the field of food security and nutrition,” he said.

However, Silo acknowledged that according to the latest national statistics of the Ministry of Planning from the Cambodian Demographic and Health Survey, 22 per cent of children under five years-old are stunted, 16 per cent are underweight and 9.8 per cent suffer from wasting due to malnourishment.

“In order to solve the problem of improving all forms of nutrition for all people, CARD cooperates with relevant ministries, institutions, development partners, civil society and the private sector to prepare a second national strategy to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDG), especially the second goal, which is to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutritional status and promote sustainable agriculture,” he said.

This national strategy aims to reduce the rate of stunting, underweight and wasting in children less than 5 years old and reduce the rate of obesity in children less than 5 years of age and in women of reproductive age.

Also speaking at the workshop, Kandal provincial deputy governor Taing Meng Lean said that in recent years the food market infrastructure in his province had grown considerably and that the growth was because of better means of transporting foods from one place to another, but they lacked proper packaging or storage in many cases.

“In addition, small food outlets in schools, hospitals, factories, enterprises and other institutions are in need of our immediate attention as well as improvements in food and beverage traffic and food security for provinces with high population densities,” he said.

He also mentioned that this issue required the provincial administration to cooperate with all parties to improve all food production lines and food safety to consumers, because food safety was an important issue for human health.

He requested stakeholders increase awareness campaigns for employees working in factories, enterprises and companies to change their attitudes about what constitutes a safe and nutritious diet.

He also stated that the provincial administration would set up a working group to coordinate the provincial food security and nutrition efforts as soon as possible that would facilitate the sharing of experiences and discussions to provide recommendations for the preparation of policy options on food security and nutrition in Cambodia.

“We focus on diet, health and food safety in markets, factories, enterprises, schools and environmental management, water supply and sanitation in newly developed areas in the towns to improve the people’s nutrition status for everyone, especially women and children,” he said.