A number of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in food supply chains gathered in a forum to discuss challenges and strategies to reply to the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused immediate, serious, and wide scale human health issues.
The forum, named Food Safety Forum on Challenges and Coping Strategies for Food Enterprises in the Time of COVID-19, was organised here in Phnom Penh by Thailand based-Mekong Institute (MI), in collaboration with Cambodia’s Consumer Protection, Competition, and Fraud Repression Department (CCF) and Cambodian Food Manufacturers Association (CFMA).
Thirty-five (35) SMEs representing the country’s food processing industry participated in the one-day forum. Industry representatives present at the event shared their experiences, especially on the impact of the ongoing global health crisis in the food business.
To control the outbreak in the country, quarantine measures and other restrictions have been made which caused major disruptions in local food supply chains, MI said.
These disease control measures, together with the existing food safety challenges faced by SMEs, have seen to drive up food prices as the pandemic makes it harder for food producers to access production inputs and reach markets, it added.
Speaking at the forum, Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialisation, stressed the importance of applying a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to support the food industry in addressing disrupted supply chains, reduced consumer consumption, as well as limited access to sourcing raw products and maintenance services.
“We must continue to work together and deliver a unified response in strengthening the industry’s resiliency during the pandemic,” she said.
Dim Theng, Deputy Director General of the CCF at the Ministry of Commerce, echoed the importance of maintaining committed partnerships to support food businesses, particularly SMEs.
“They are our growth engines and line of defence in ensuring low-income consumers can access safe and nutritious food during this crisis,” he said.
“Collaborations such as this Forum are proactive steps in helping the industry increase food production outputs, adapt better business e-strategies, and strengthen health protocols to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” he stressed.
Representatives from successful exporting agro-companies, such as Confirel Co., Ltd. and Hyundai Agro (Cambodia) Co., Ltd., were also at the event to share essential market information and best practices. Chea Vannak – AKP