The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) office in Cambodia intends to commence the implementation of a range of new projects in 2023 in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and other partners, with total funding of over $65 million, according to their March 20 press release.

That would represent an increase of spending of 120 per cent for the country’s FAO portfolio, compared to the previous year, it said.

FAO representative in Cambodia Rebekah Bell said the organisation is ready to continue its support to Cambodia to assist the government in achieving its priorities by building more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all.

“At FAO Cambodia, we are very much looking forward to developing even greater collaboration with the [agriculture ministry] and other development partners. Backed by the support we receive from our FAO regional office in Bangkok and FAO headquarters in Rome, I am confident working in this new representation we will do just that,” she said.

“FAO has provided assistance to support the implementation of Cambodia’s national development priorities through both emergency and technical support in many areas including increasing agricultural productivity and diversification, irrigation, animal production and health, management of fisheries and forestry resources, food security, food safety and agri-food industry development,” said the joint press release.

Jong-jin Kim, FAO assistant director-general and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said FAO is developing a strategy to improve food security and nutrition as well as support changes in the food system in Cambodia and further work on the initiative to bring more development to the Kingdom.

He made the remarks after the March 20 official opening of the new FAO representative office on the agriculture ministry’s compound.

He said the Cambodian government has achieved stable agricultural production with crops such as rice and some other staple crops that are exported overseas despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the clime change crisis, which means that it has contributed to helping solve the shortages of food globally and helped to improve food security for countries in the region and the world.

“I think that Cambodia has developed rapidly both economically and agriculturally and I believe that Cambodia will continue to develop in agriculture, in particular, as a big part of the overall economy of Cambodia in the future,” he added.

He thanked the government for providing the location for the FAO building and office, saying that the next task is for the organisation to prepare a strategic document on food security from 2024 to 2028, which is one of the steps to help advance to the next stage of agricultural development.

He said FAO is also preparing its own national strategy, which is an opportunity to work with the ministry and with the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) to improve food security, nutrition and support changes to the food system in Cambodia.

Agriculture minister Dith Tina thanked FAO for contributing and supporting the development of the ministry and Cambodia as a whole through its technical assistance across a wide range of agricultural sectors.

“It is important that this partnership is in line with the new priorities of the agriculture ministry,” he said, adding that increased productivity, better quality produce, product chain infrastructure and sustainable use of natural resources are some of the ministry’s goals.