Cambodia plans to undertake a cold storage project to boost agricultural exports, raise food hygiene standards and streamline systems and processes in the local market.

The plan was unveiled on November 10 at a virtual meeting between the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Singapore-based partner company Asia Infrastructure.

Cambodia Safe Fish, Meat and Vegetables Association vice-president Sok Yorn lauded the project, but said setting up the necessary cold storage facilities would require a lot of money and close monitoring during the harvest season of the fish, fruits or vegetables that need to be frozen.

“Many of us Cambodians still face problems with electricity costs, it is not cheap yet, unless they can arrange for the use of solar energy,” he said, adding that the association plans to set up a centre to buy, sell and distribute fish to help local producers.

World Vision marketing communications officer Pich Kimthea gave a thumbs up to the plan, saying it would boost the sale of Cambodian agricultural products.

She said the NGO would provide grants of about 40 per cent of the $20,000 estimated cost of installing the cold storage facilities and associated works to proprietors with a clear business plan.

Leng Navatra Natural Produce Supermarket Co Ltd manager Lim Vannak said small-scale farmers could benefit greatly from the cold storage technology, enabling them to “store the goods for a while and then sell them at a reasonable price”.

Cambodia exported 5.93 million tonnes of agricultural products to 90 countries and territories in the first nine months of this year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries reported on October 14.

Vietnam topped the list of buyers accounting for 64.11 per cent of the exports (3.8 million tonnes), followed by Thailand at 21.49 per cent (1.3 million tonnes) and China at 9.69 per cent (around 575,000 tonnes). The remaining 4.71 per cent (just under 280,000 tonnes) were sold to the remaining 87 markets.

For reference, an earlier ministry report indicated that Cambodia exported more than 13 million tonnes of agricultural products last year, valued at $3.433 billion.