In an appeal to bolster Cambodia's renowned fish paste industry, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina has advised participants to carry out in-depth research on the production of prahok.
The recommendation, given at a recent meeting, stressed refining techniques, enhancing aroma and flavour, and improving the price chain to achieve true economic sustainability for export.
Tina underscored the necessity of addressing intellectual property (IP) registration and achieving international recognition. These elements, he insisted, are fundamental to creating a successful global presence for prahok – a ubiquitous pungent-smelling fermented fish paste used in a wide variety of local dishes.
The meeting, held on June 29, saw Tina spearhead discussions on enhancing prahok processing for export and managing the Mangrove Conservation and Development Project in Kep province. Members of the Kinal Foundation attended the discussions at the ministry headquarters in Phnom Penh as well.
Tina mentioned that it is essential to adapt to growing market demands by identifying fish species which can be rapidly bred and processed in line with market standards. To facilitate this, he stressed the ministry's support in providing knowledge, technological assistance, policy-making and media publicity.
The ministry emphasised the cultural significance of prahok, describing it as a staple food for Cambodians. It plays a crucial role in food security and nutrition, particularly for the rural populace.
Data from UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) indicates that Cambodians consume on average 18g of fermented fish paste daily. With the ability to commercially supply about 8,900 tonnes of prahok in 2022, produced by 182 operators, Cambodia stands ready to cater to domestic demand and extend its reach to international markets, including France, the US and South Korea.