Yun Samnang’s journey from selling items in a basket in Aranya village of Siem Reap commune, town and province to creating dried fish handicrafts with Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS) and generating a monthly income of $4,000 to $5,000 highlights the importance of quality and safety certifications in the food industry.

The owner of Samnang Sothea Fish Processing Enterprise welcomed a study tour and dissemination of fisheries enterprises benefiting from the CAPFISH-CAPTURE post-harvest fisheries development project organised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in collaboration with the UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) on September 19.

He told reporters that he started his business in 2003 as a family-scale venture, drying 4kg to 10kg of fish per day, with a profit of about 20,000 riel to 30,000 riel ($5 to $6).

He mentioned that he spent one year working as a fish processing worker to save enough money to launch his enterprise.

Samnang, who lives with paralysis in his right leg due to polio at the age of 5, doesn’t let his disability hinder him.

In 2021, he discovered the CAPFISH-CAPTURE project and successfully obtained the CQS food safety certification this year.

“CAPFISH-CAPURE offers essential technical equipment, tools and skills for food safety, along with an effective monitoring system and comprehensive staff training in safety management,” he explained.

He said the enterprise can now produce two tonnes of dried fish per month, resulting in a monthly profit of $4,000 to $5,000.

He also expressed his desire to expand the dried fish processing business in the future, which could create additional employment opportunities for villagers and potentially facilitate exports.

“My dream is to become a supplier of quality, tasty and safe fish products to all markets,” he said.

Shetty Thombathu, senior technical adviser to UNIDO, explained that the CAPFISH-CAPTURE project collaborates with the ministry’s Fisheries Administration (FiA) to enhance the skills of inspectors and auditors through training sessions.

He noted that officials who complete this training assist fishery product processing enterprises in Cambodia, currently totalling 28, in implementing the CQS food safety system.

“We not only help the private sector and the government, but also help build branding of Cambodian fishery products. Cambodia has the Tonle Sap Lake, Angkor Wat Temple and Mekong River, so it all adds value to Cambodian products as they are associated with a long tradition and history,” he said.

Ministry spokesperson Im Rachna said that with financial support from the EU and collaboration with UNIDO and FiA, they have been working together to expand and enhance enterprise capacity.

She added that their goal is to create fast, safe enterprises capable of processing quality and hygienic dried fish that is not only safe but also of delectable taste.

She also highlighted that producing high-quality and safe products enables business owners to capture a larger share of the market.

“We’ve noticed that some of the enterprises we visited struggled to meet market demand, and this is a positive development. We remain committed to further enhancing the capacity of other interested enterprises with high dedication,” she said.

Rachna also mentioned that as post-harvest fishery processing enterprises transition from traditional handicraft processing to standardised operations, the initial impact is felt on the production line.

This shift ensures that workers operate in a clean and hygienic environment. This development not only guarantees food safety for consumers but also contributes to socio-economic growth.