Political instability in Cambodia since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979 has prevented essential development in the rural regions of the country. Over 75 percent of the population in Cambodia engages in subsistence farming, which is often inadequate, and most areas suffer from a lack of basic infrastructure.
On March 15th, 2005, using a donation of 5,000 metric tons of wheat and 380 metric tons of soy flour from the US Department of Agriculture, IRD began implementation of the Better Foods for Better Lives program. Better Foods for Better Lives works both to strengthen Cambodia’s food processing capabilities and to provide fortified food products to children and low-income consumers.
As a direct result of the program to date, almost two million packages of low-cost fortified noodles called “Mee Dara” have been produced and marketed since May 2005. Local noodle producers have increased production by 60 percent and have created 110 jobs for women, and four local small bakeries have increased their production of bread by 20 percent. Meanwhile, 8,500 primary school children in Cambodia receive bread, snack noodles, and soy milk every morning as part of IRD’s efforts to combat malnutrition in country.
With increased efficiency, private sector food processors in Cambodia will be better positioned to compete with companies from the neighboring countries in Vietnam and Thailand.
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