The Ministry of Agriculture is preparing to launch a QR code sticker scheme that will allow authorities and consumers to check the origin of vegetables and other agricultural products and see whether or not producers follow good agricultural practice (GAP).
Ker Monthivuth, the director of the department of plant protection at the ministry, told Khmer Times the QR codes will give access to key information about the product where they are pasted, including origin and agricultural techniques employed.
Farmers with a GAP certification can use pesticides and chemical fertilizers up to a certain limit. QR code will help customers access this information, Mr Monthivuth said, so they know how safe for consumption the products are.
“Together with GAP regulation, the QR codes will help us build consumer trust on the supply chain and on producers,” Mr Monthivuth said.
He said the new scheme will be open to all farms that follow GAP, adding that they will start accepting applications “very soon”.
“We have talked about this new project with tens of thousands of farms and farmers that are GAP-certified,” he said. “Most of them want to register with us and we will do so as soon as the QR code system is ready,” Mr Monthivuth said.
He said they will first focus on getting the stickers on fresh vegetables, particularly in Kandal and Phnom Penh.
“Once farms register to implement GAP standards, we will evaluate their facilities and give them the QR code for their products,” he said.
Application for GAP certification and to be included in the QR code scheme is now free, but farmers may be billed a service fee in the near future, he said.
Chhim Tony, an officer of the Food Safety Bureau at the Department of Drug and Food, told Khmer Times that the QR codes help increase awareness among people of the quality of the food they are consuming.
“Hotels, restaurants and consumers will be able to see the origin of the products and whether or not they followed best practice. With this, they can make an informed decision,” Mr Tony said.
Another advantage of the system, he said, is that health officers can check the origin of products in case of food poisoning and will be able to take appropriate action against the supplier.
Mao Canady, operation manager of Eco-Agri Co, Ltd, told Khmer Times that the new system will allow consumers and authorities to also check where the product was stored.
“It will help build trust for consumers, who can now check where their vegetables are coming from and where they were stored,” Ms Canady said.
“If they have issues with the product they can contact the supplier and complain to them directly,” she said.