The government has launched a vision for sustainable food systems. By 2030, Cambodians will have access to a healthy and safe diet – with a particular focus on women and children – according to Yim Chhay Ly, deputy prime minister and chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) on June 30.

Chhay Ly made the announcement at a function held to celebrate World Food Safety Day in Phnom Penh. This year’s celebrations are being observed with the theme “Safer food, better health”.

He said the government acknowledged that food security and nutrition were fundamental rights of every individual, as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“We have launched the sustainable food system to guarantee access to adequate nutrition to all and to break the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition,” he added.

Chhay Ly said the government had prioritised food security as an inter-sectoral issue which would contribute to the development of human resources, national prosperity and social equality.

“Food security, food safety and food systems are multidisciplinary issues that require strong cooperation, coordination, intervention and investment from a wide range of sectors – particularly in agriculture, health, education and water and sanitation,” he said.

He added that the continued cooperation of all stakeholders will enable the government to effectively address the complexities of the root causes of all forms of malnutrition, food security and food safety.

The government, through CARD, had implemented the Second National Strategy on Food Security and Nutrition 2019-2023 and the Cambodian Roadmap for Food Systems for Sustainable Development 2030. Both mechanisms aimed to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, he said.

Chhay Ly noted that this year’s theme was perfectly aligned with the King’s June 8 promulgation of the new food safety law.

UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative to Cambodia Rebekah Bell emphasised that if it is not safe, it is not food.

“We need collective efforts, commitment and investment to make safe food and healthy diets more affordable and accessible for all,” she said.

She added that to achieve this, stakeholders need to make food systems more efficient, resilient and sustainable at every step — from production and processing, to marketing, transportation and delivery.

Asheena Khalakdina, country team leader for the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Health Emergency Programme, said food safety was a shared responsibility.

“There remains a significant need for education and training on the prevention of food-borne diseases among food producers, suppliers, handlers and the general public of Cambodia,” she said.