Lack of innovation and value addition of fishery processing has prevented the sector from fully reaping the economic benefits of the nation’s abundance of resources, officials said this week.
The comments came on Tuesday during the launch of the first EU-sponsored Research and Innovation Platform that aims to boost the export and development of fishery products.
It was also noted that the fishery sector has huge potential to contribute to economic base diversification, given the abundance of resources Cambodia has and the value addition potential it inherits.
The catches of fishery data in 2021 shows Cambodia harvested nearly 860,000 tons, equal to $1.7 billion. This means Cambodia can make only $2 per kilogram from its fishery produces.
Food Technology, Research, and Innovation Platform (FTP), initiated by the UNDIO-CAPFish project with financial support of the EU, is an innovative, multi-stakeholder collaborative mechanism between government organizations, higher education institutions and the private sector. It aims to promote research; and development and innovation in the food/ agri-food production sector, particularly for the development of fishery products in Cambodia.
As an innovative public-academia-private partnership, FTP will further bolster capacities in applied research of higher education institutions in Cambodia to serve the post-harvest fishery and food production sectors in general.
“As dynamic and growing challenged by many current and structural difficulties, the sector needs to continue its modernizations in all pillars of the policy, and it always needs more advanced technological solutions, including in the post-harvest development for processing, trading and exporting as per international standards,” Carmen Moreno, EU Ambassador to Cambodia, said.
She added, “Fishery products being processed from fishery resources in Cambodia are limited in value addition and product diversification, due to lack of innovations which leads to poor competitiveness. More innovations are needed to valorize the fishery resources and in reducing post-harvest losses.”
Contribution of higher education institutions in research and innovation is responding well to the current growth of aquaculture in Cambodia, which is at 20% annually, said Veng Sakhon, Minster, Ministry of agriculture forestry and fisheries.
“This can be an opportunity lost if resources from those aquacultures are not well processed with value addition to meet its full potential. Diversification of fishery products that correspond to market demands is key to drive economic growth of the country, particularly to support the export of Cambodia’s fishery product to China and EU markets, ‘’ Veng Sakhon added.
Ali Badarneh, UNIDO Chief of Sustainable Food System Division, said the platform can help Cambodia strengthen its capacity on advanced handling or processing technology, research and innovation system, knowledge on consumer needs and market trends for the sustainable growth of post-harvest fishery.
Badarneh added that the platform can provide a good solution for Cambodia to tackle challenges in its fishery businesses that are limited in value addition and product diversification while the country is known to have abundance of raw materials.
“Furthermore, there seems to be a lot of imported fisheries products on the Cambodian market that could have been produced locally. ‘’