The CQS, Cambodia's first food safety certification scheme for fish and fishery products, has been launched to promote food safety practices in post-harvest fisheries.
On November 14, the CQS certification officially launched to promote the implementation of good hygiene practices, food safety, and quality management systems, as well as add value to Cambodian fish and fishery products in accordance with regional and international market requirements.
The CQS certification is a Ministry of Agriculture initiative supported by the European Union and UNIDO through the CAPFish-Capture program. In addition, the certification is accessible to process companies, fishing vessels, landing sites, accredited distributors, and retailers, such as supermarkets and minimarts.
Has Sareth, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said Cambodia's fisheries sector has played an essential role in supplying food and nutrition, boosting employment and income for the people, and contributing roughly 5.5 percent to national economic growth.
He said that it is estimated that approximately 20 percent of the population is directly dependent on the fisheries sector, including agriculture for a living, with more than 50 percent of women being significantly involved.
Cambodians, on the other hand, are among the world's most fish-reliant populations, according to a 2019 research. The average annual fish consumption per person is 57.3 kg, compared to 20.5 kg globally, he added.
“With a long-term vision of sustainable fisheries development and inclusiveness, the Ministry of Agriculture is working on building policies and strategic plans for fisheries development to ensure a sustainable value chain for performance in terms of quality, efficiency, and quantity, while effectively contributing to agricultural growth,” he said.
Launching the CQS is another milestone that he hopes will support the fishing sector, particularly fish processing firms to scale up and meet the food safety criteria of regional and international markets.
“Through the CAPFish-supported Value Chian Investment Support Scheme, I sincerely hope that the CQS logo will soon be found on fishery products at supermarkets and minimarts in Cambodia,” he said. “Our shared visions, commitment, and dedication to promoting safe and quality fishery products have made the CQS launch a reality.”
Meav Soktry, president of the Cambodia Food Manufacture Association, said that only five percent of the 52,000 registered enterprises are manufacturing enterprises, according to the Ministry of Industry. Therefore, the registration standard will also be determined by the manufacturer registered with the Ministry of Industry.
“CQS has 28 enterprises who have volunteered to adopt this standard,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be growing as the implementation of this standard will allow them to abandon traditional manufacturing in favour of modern production that can adapt to current markets as well as exports.”
Phal Chakriya, a manager of Snadai Mae, said that her enterprise is currently applying for the CQS certification in order to provide quality products to Cambodian consumers while also building trust among them.
“It will go beyond what we say. We will have proof to build confidence with the consumer and these foods can safeguard their health,” she said. “Importantly, when they recognise our Cambodian products, it will reduce imports while increasing domestic employment.”
She believes that having the CQS certificate will increase sales as it adds value to her product.
“When we get CQS certification, it will entice those consumers who are concerned about their health to purchase our goods,” she said. “They are sometimes too busy to stain the meat.”
Currently, Snadai Mae only serves the domestic market; there is no export.
“We have a plan, but it’s not 100 percent since we want to support locals first as we still lack safe food,” she said.