National taskforce of government experts and food safety researchers start work of ensuring safe food for Cambodians
A technical working group of Cambodia food safety experts has joined forces with a task force on food safety risk assessment to form the ‘national task force’ __ an initiative by the Safe Food, Fair Food for Cambodia (SFFF) project__ that will work toward strengthening food safety policy advocacy and collaboration between government and food safety researchers working in the country.
A first meeting of the taskforce on 24–25 October 2019 in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia brought together 25 experts from all six governmental ministries involved in managing food safety and food quality in the country including the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Tourism, and Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Sothyra Tum, director of the Cambodia National Animal Health and Production Research Institute (NAHPRI) noted that the ministries had established a working group to enhance systematic information sharing and communication on food safety across different sectors and strengthen collaboration among the ministries. The technical working group will endeavour to work in harmony through joining the national taskforce.
At the meeting, participants said they would promote the new taskforce and its agenda in their ministries and organizations. Partners also agreed to develop the taskforce’s terms of reference, define its vision, mission and goals, and elaborate the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders. They suggested the national taskforce focus on food safety action planning, communication, publishing, and capacity development for policymakers and researchers.
The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which coordinates the SFFF for Cambodia project, will work closely with NAHPRI and partners to develop the ToR for the national taskforce.
The taskforce’s creation follows an ILRI-initiated model on food safety capacity and research program in other countries such as Vietnam, India, and some African countries. The application of the model has contributed to significant scientific and policy improvements in the countries through studies on food safety, setting up of food safety guidelines and publishing and use of training materials on food safety risk assessment, and policy influencing activities.
The taskforce meeting was jointly organized by NAHPRI and ILRI and is part of the SFFF for Cambodia project which is implemented under the United States Agency for International Development-funded Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems.
As a follow up of the taskforce discussion, a workshop on theory of change was organized in Phnom Penh on 28 November 2019. Together with key food safety stakeholders, the project has now developed a roadmap for achieving ‘safe food’ in Cambodia and how SFFF might contribute to it. All stakeholders have also developed a monitoring and evaluation framework.
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