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New FAO representative reaffirms commitment to food system development in Kingdom

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Newly-appointed FAO representative for Cambodia, Rebekah Bell, during a courtesy call to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on March 3. VENG SAKHON VIA FACEBOOK

New FAO representative reaffirms commitment to food system development in Kingdom

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on March 3 reaffirmed its commitment to assisting the Kingdom in the pursuit of better food production methods, for overall improved nutrition and economic growth.

The commitment was made by the newly-appointed FAO representative for Cambodia, Rebekah Bell, the third woman to hold the post since the UN agency opened its office in the Kingdom in 1994, the FAO said in a statement.

Bell has presented her letters of credence to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation secretary of state Luy David, the statement said without providing concrete dates.

“During the courtesy call, Ms Bell announced her strong commitment in assisting Cambodia to ensure better food production systems for economic growth and better nutrition for all, while protecting Cambodia’s environment, as well as generating more jobs and better livelihoods for Cambodians,” it said.

Bell was quoted in the statement as saying: “FAO has a large programme of work under its new strategic framework, which is closely aligned with the strategic priorities of the government and that by working closely with and through the [agriculture ministry] much could be achieved.”

She stressed that a “strong collaboration” between the UN agency and the government was “moving beyond food and nutrition security and will focus more on economic and environmental opportunities for smallholder producers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors”.

New targetted areas of collaboration, she said, “will also include food control and food safety systems as these key systems will help to protect health, and improve the nutrition of Cambodians, while at the same time improving food processing businesses and facilitating growth in exports”.

Sakhon said in the statement that his ministry “will continue to guarantee strong partnership with FAO to ensure the successful implementation of FAO’s country programme”.

“[He] warmly welcomed Ms Bell and thanked FAO for its continued support and strong cooperation with [his ministry] in implementing various priority projects, achieving remarkable results through its technical assistance to the ministry and its dissemination of modern agricultural techniques, which help farmers access and utilise agricultural technologies.”

“He noted that these are key for farmers to increase productivity, ensuring both quality and quantity of produce, improving competitiveness, while enabling farmers to adapt to climate change and improving their resilience to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic,” the FAO added.

Sakhon and Bell also settled on a number of priority tasks to spur sectoral development.

The statement listed some of these as “improving agricultural infrastructure – transportation, processing facility – strengthening processing capacity by expanding partnerships with the private sector, providing support to small and medium enterprises, agricultural market system development, food system planning for cities, as well as cold chain system expansion”.

“These priority areas are key to a sustainable future. While Cambodia’s aspiration is to become a middle-income country, our inspiration is to strategically work with the [ministry] and other partners to help Cambodia realise this goal,” Bell added.

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