Cambodia on October 16 joined other countries to observe World Food Day (WFD), held globally this year under the theme “Our actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”.
The outdoor event – organised in Kok Konglech commune of Prey Veng province’s Kanh Chriech district – was attended by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon and 50 participants representing the private sector, development partners, the media and farmers.
In a press statement on October 16, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the WFD 2021 event was held to raise awareness of the need to support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.
“It calls for action across sectors to ensure that our agri-food systems deliver enough affordable, nutritious and safe food for all to lead active and healthy lives, while protecting our planet,” it said.
FAO said agri-food systems cover the journey of food from farm to table – from when it is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, transported, distributed, traded, bought, prepared, eaten and what to do with food waste.
The systems involve a wide range of actors, including farmers and fisher folks, collectors, traders, retailers, processors, and consumers on the way they prepare and enjoy their food.
“The way food is produced, consumed and, sadly, wasted strongly affects our planet, putting unnecessary pressure on natural resources, the environment and climate. Food production too often degrades or destroys natural habitats and contributes to species extinction,” the statement said.
FAO said the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem, creating severe setbacks in the progress made so far to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
It said the poor and vulnerable households in the country are facing severe income shocks as most of them bank on diverse sources including on-farm activities, wage labour, non-agricultural activities, and national and international remittance. Covid-19 has disrupted all of these employment opportunities.
“Cambodia has a strong commitment to transform its agri-food systems. Cambodia joined the first ever UN Food Systems Summit in September 2021, a global event that forged consensus on bold new actions to transform the way the world produces and consumes food, with an aim to get back on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” it said.
FAO affirms that it stands ready to provide support to the Kingdom to adopt nature-positive production that will optimise environmental resource use in food production, processing and distribution, which could reduce biodiversity loss, pollution, water use, soil degradation and greenhouse gas emissions.
It also supports the adoption of innovative technologies and traditional knowledge for farmers to spur them to grow nutritious foods with sustainable and environmentally friendly methods.
Antonio Schiavone, FAO representative to Cambodia, said: “To realise this transformation, we need supportive policies, changes in mindsets, behaviours such as adopting a healthy and sustainable lifestyle and reducing food waste, and business models to ensure better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, leaving no one behind.”
Speaking at the event, agriculture minister Veng Sakhon said Cambodia's 2030 food systems vision is that the people will have healthy, nutritious and safe food, with particular attention to women and children.
Covid-19, Sokhonn said, has had severe impact on the country's socio-economic development, especially livelihood of poor and vulnerable people. In response, the government has introduced many measures to help mitigate the impacts and to promote economic growth, including in agricultural sector.
“The government's main strategy is to place a particular focus on increasing produce, ensuring food security, maintaining economic growth and development in all sectors, especially agriculture,” Sakhon said.
He said the promotion of agricultural produce and food systems in Cambodia is the upgrade of innovation and modern technology for the whole system. The agriculture ministry, he noted, has set a clear vision to modernise the agricultural sector for it to be more competitive, inclusive and resilient to climate change to bring about income sustainability and long-term healthcare for the people.
The ministry has also paid particular attention to the reduction of desertification and promotion of sustainable management of soil, forest and fisheries for it to be more effective and environment-friendly.