A new partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations seeks to enhance the quality of local meat by modernising facilities and raising hygiene standards, with a pilot project launched in Takeo in November.
The Takeo project, which has a lifespan of 15 months, is being implemented in cooperation with Cambodia’s General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Alexandre Huynh, FAO’s representative in Cambodia, told Khmer Times that the project seeks to safeguard public health and improve animal welfare by making live poultry markets safer and by establishing systems to trace the origin of meat products in the country.
“To these ends, we will engage all relevant stakeholders at all levels: government institutions, development partners, the private sector, communities, gender groups, and consumers,” he said.
Mr Huynh said the project targets Takeo’s live bird market, which has high levels of avian influenza among its chicken population, including some highly pathogenic subtypes such as H5N1.
“Live bird markets are considered a key pathway in the avian influenza epidemiology and of major public health concern as hygiene and biosecurity application precautions are limited and a large number of birds from different sources come together, including species able to maintain silent infection.
“The project targets the district municipality officers, the staff of the office of animal health and production, market authorities, vendors and traders, who will be trained on risk mitigation of avian influenza introduction, spread, and spillover,” he said.
Mr Huynh said the goal is to enhance hygiene in the market by improving facilities and reshaping the practices of stakeholders like market vendors and officials.
He said that, once the project concludes, Takeo’s live bird market will become a model for other similar markets across the country. “Up to now, there is no model live bird market in Cambodia, but markets of different designs and different protocols for biosecurity.”
Sen Sovann, director general of the General Directorate of Animal Health and Production, said the project will play an important role in improving food safety in the country.
“We are helping small slaughterhouses boost the quality of their meat products that are sold in rural markets,” he said.