UNIDO’s Badarneh on taking PCP Cambodia to new heights

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Ali Badarneh, chief of Sustainable Food Systems Division, UNIDO. SUPPLIED

UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)’s mission in Cambodia has actively contributed to the development of quality infrastructure, accreditation of testing laboratories, marine fisheries, renewable energy and environmental sustainability.

Currently, UNIDO is implementing a major EU flagship project, which is supporting the fisheries sector to valorise fishery products, upgrade value chains, and ensure the production of safer products. It is also assisting the sector to reach more markets in the region and globally, including the EU.

Ali Badarneh, Chief of Sustainable Food Systems Division, UNIDO has led and coordinated these efforts since 2018 setting in place relevant strategies to build the capacity of competent authorities, regional and global UNIDO partners in achieving food safety.

In a recent interview with The Post, Baderneh talked about UNIDO’s latest mission in Cambodia and past achievements including its cooperation with line ministries in Cambodia.

Please briefly describe the mission and work of UNIDO in Cambodia.

UNIDO has been active in Cambodia since 2013 in various development activities in quality infrastructure, accreditation of testing laboratories, marine fisheries, renewable energy and environment sustainability. The current mission involves a major EU flagship project in the fisheries sector.

What are UNIDO’s past and current missions in Cambodia?

Our missions in the past and present are conducted under UNIDO’s Programme for Country Partnership for Cambodia (PCP Cambodia) framework which was introduced in 2017. PCP Cambodia supports the implementation of the Industrial Development Policy (2015-2025) and Cambodia’s overall goal of achieving upper-middle income status by 2030.

The current mission, in particular, aims to review and monitor the progress of the implementation of projects. Discussions are also ongoing with the government, stakeholders and development partners to establish a stronger collaboration to ensure growth in agribusiness development in Cambodia.

What type of cooperation has UNIDO engaged in with Cambodian ministries and relevant institutions?

UNIDO has always had close collaborations and consultations with the government. The overall framework for this cooperation is enabled by PCP Cambodia, which focusses on a skills-driven and export-oriented economy. This is by supporting the agro value chain development (including linkages to the tourism sector), as well as industrial diversification, innovation and development of special economic zones.

For example, we are working with the Fisheries Administration to develop a post-harvest fisheries value chain. We are also working with other line departments of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Commerce (Camcontrol) to support their testing laboratories towards international accreditation. Another example is the recently established Food Technology, Research and Innovation Platform, which brings together ministries, universities and private sector representatives to address the issues of food sector private operators. This is being done via research and innovation solutions offered by the universities.

Within the mandate of the UNIDO programme head, can you share a little about the scope of the projects to be implemented and how they would contribute to the development of Cambodia?

Through its technical cooperation activities, UNIDO supports the development of sustainable agribusiness, food value chains and inclusive market systems. It also promotes business opportunities for the rural populations and strengthens markets to enhance industrial linkages and economic transformation.

In Cambodia, we intend to develop and upgrade agro-value chains to improve their competitiveness and attain better market access for agro products. This will lead to contribution to economic development as well as generate income and employment.

As an example, we are currently supporting around 40 post-harvest fisheries processors through training on food safety and business development, and procuring the necessary equipment to increase their productivity. It is also important to mention that the majority of our beneficiaries are women-lead or women-owned enterprises.

What is the objective in UNIDO’s support for agribusiness and specific groups? To what extent are these projects contributing to problem resolution?

Agribusiness enterprises in Cambodia are facing major constraints such as lack of technology, equipment, knowledge and skills, finance, and legal and policy framework, which hinders their access to better markets. Our support targets these areas with greater attention to cross-cutting issues such as gender equality and environment.

How has UNIDO helped in the promotion of agri-business in Cambodia?

UNIDO’s work in the fisheries sector is aimed at improving its competitiveness through value addition, certification, technology upgrading, productivity increase, and skills enhancement. For example, we are finalising the development of a certification scheme for safer food products, called Cambodia Quality Seal (CQS), which would help certified enterprises charge premium prices and increase their market presence locally and regionally. We also work with government counterparts to establish policy and regulatory frameworks and invest in human capital to ensure production and supply of safer and more marketable fish products.

What is the direction of UNIDO’s support in the future?

The health of our food systems profoundly affects human health, environmental health, economies and culture. UNIDO’s future work in this area would focus on promoting employment opportunities and income generation, while reinforcing sustainable livelihoods and food security.