In order to promote improved nutrition and food safety, state institutions and their partners undertook a study on the challenges facing Cambodia’s food system, initially in the provinces of Kampong Chhnang and Preah Vihear.

The results were presented at an April 21 consultative workshop, with the participation of Helen Keller International Cambodia, the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) and other key stakeholders.

Hou Kroeun, deputy country director of Helen Keller, said the purpose of the workshop was to examine the challenges of the food system and collect input and discuss intervention, barriers and the steps that need to be taken.

The workshop also showcased the results of the research. The Kampong Chhnang and Preah Vihear surveys focused on children aged 0-5, women of reproductive age (15-45 years), and grandparents aged 45-75 who care for children.

“The results of our research demonstrate that knowledge of health and nutrition remains limited in many key demographics.

“Many children under 5 are malnourished, often due to the expense on or scarcity of food. In other areas, they are receiving enough food, but there appears to be little understanding of what constitutes a healthy diet. Intervention is required to alter stakeholders’ behaviour,” he said.

He explained that nutrition remains a multi-sectoral issue that requires strong cooperation, coordination and intervention.

“I believe these provinces were an important case study. We intend to ask donors to discuss interventions, address barriers and plan the next steps to improve food security and nutrition across the Kingdom,” he added.

CARD deputy secretary-general Chou Bun Heang agreed that the results of the research would be invaluable to contributing to the reform of Cambodia’s food systems.

“Food safety is directly related to the food system. From the stages of production, processing, distribution and storage to the preparation and consumption, that is, from the point of production to the place of eating,” he said.

He added that the government has now set four priorities to develop food system: Promoting healthy diets, promoting vulnerable people and women, strengthening resilience, and promoting inclusive governance.

“Food is not in short supply in Cambodia; in fact we are able to export a lot of it,” he said.