The productivity and competitiveness of small and medium-sized fishery processing enterprises in Cambodia have been enhanced through the strengthening of solar drying technology, due to efforts by the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). 

UNIDO released a January 10 statement stating that the CAPFISH-Capture: Post-harvest Fisheries Development project has introduced a simplified guidebook for utilising the system. 

The Fisheries Administration (FiA) acknowledged the importance of the technology, while the organisation stated that the manual has transformed the dehydration process.

The statement explained that Solar Dryer Dome (SDD) technology allows processors to dry their products in various weather conditions and in a clean environment, which significantly reduces post-harvest losses and improves the quality of goods.

It added that the project, co-funded by the EU, actively promotes the shift from traditional open-sun drying to solar technology among local processors.

Sulaiman Berdikeev, international private sector development coordinator at UNIDO, stated that since 2022, the project has assisted ten fishery enterprises across six provinces in adopting the domes. 

He said that the aid enhances productivity and hygiene practices to produce high-quality, safe dried products, making them competitive against imported products.

“Since then, the enterprises have benefited from using the technology, allowing them to dry fish and shrimp regardless of rain or cloudy weather. This has reduced drying times,” he added.

“Drying fish in this way is more hygienic and protects the products from insects. We reduced food and labour costs, increased production capacity and enhanced the quality and safety of products, increasing competition,” he explained.

Chhuon Chamnan, director of Post-harvest Technologies and Quality Control at the FiA, highlighted the importance of the SDD. He stated that it helps processors tackle challenges such as uneven drying, infection risks, unfavourable weather and excessive workforce usage.

He also noted that the use of the device contributes to climate change initiatives by reducing the use of nonrenewable energy sources like gas and firewood, which impact the environment.

“The drying technology has made a significant contribution to reducing climate change. I noted that processed products would be certified for the Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS) by the FiA. These products are of good quality and competitive in the market. More consumers have gained insights into using products with the CQS,” he added.

Chamnan said that to bridge the knowledge gap in using the innovative tech-based solution, the “Simplified Step-by-Step Guide for Fish and Shrimp Drying Process in Solar Dryer Dome” book has been developed collaboratively with key stakeholders. 

He explained that the comprehensive resource is shared with fishery enterprises and post-harvest fisheries value chain actors, enabling processors to effectively use the technology to optimise the quality of dried fishery products.

Sok Khim, owner of Heng Hort (Sok Khim) Dried Fish Processor in Siem Reap, commented on the guide’s impact. 

“Thanks to this easy-to-use guide, I understand better how to use the solar … technology effectively, leading to higher-quality dried fish products and increased consumer trust and sales,” Khim said.

UNIDO, in collaboration with the SWITCH to Solar project and other key stakeholders, including the agriculture ministry, provincial departments and fisheries cantonments, as well as microfinance institutions (MFIs), solar technology providers and fishery enterprises, is spearheading initiatives to promote and expand access to solar technologies in the agri-food and fisheries industries, aiming to foster stronger business linkages and joint ventures.

CAPFISH-Capture, initiated in February 2023, is part of a larger programme for sustainable and inclusive growth in the fisheries sector and focuses on building business capacity to help enterprises become more competitive in the industry.