ASEAN-AMAF: Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Resolve to Strengthen Food Security
Leaders from ASEAN Member States convening at the eighth Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Agricultural and Forestry (ASEAN-AMA) in Hanoi outlining commitments to insuring food security across the region.
The ASEAN Members adopted a resolution plan focused on strengthening food security, encouraging sustainable agricultural practices and addressing climate change.
“By working together and leveraging on our collective resources, we can ensure progress toward realizing the aim of food security for all in ASEAN,” said Dr. Le Ngoc Trong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. “We need to continue to nurture collaborations inside and outside the region to reach this goal.”
The resolution outlines 25 commitments that both ASEAN Members and its Dialogue Partners are committed to supporting. Among these, initiatives have been designed to move away from traditional agricultural practices and investment in modern infrastructure, research and technology.
Other commitments include ensuring access to affordable financing for farmers engaged in small-scale production, and investing in rural youth development. To promote sustainability, efforts have been agreed on to reduce food loss and waste and further develop regional value chains for agricultural products.
Despite the progress made in recent years to tackle hunger across ASEAN, roughly one million people still face food insecurity due to population growth and a changing climate. Therefore, ASEAN is determined to continue working together with Dialogue Partners to contribute towards increasing food resource availability.
The 25 commitments set out by AMAF mark an important step forward in meeting shared aims of reducing poverty through an enhanced agricultural sector. In doing so, ASEAN is on track to achieving its commitment of increasing agricultural productivity by 10 percent every five years as outlined in its 2017 Roadmap for Productivity Enhancement of Agriculture.
The 25th ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) Meeting, hosted by Myanmar on May 13-15, concluded with an adoption of 25 resolutions. These resolutions included plans to tackle a range of pressing issues in the ASEAN region, from agricultural productivity to biodiversity conservation. Here’s what the ministers pledged:
First, the ministers acknowledged that the regional agricultural sector requires more efficient and modern production systems, and more sustainable agricultural practices in order to meet the demand of a growing population while protecting natural resources and supporting rural development. To this end, they committed to strengthen the implementation of the AMAF Strategic Plan, encourage the use of sustainable agrifood development practices, and support research and innovation initiatives towards developing high-value crops and diversifying existing farming practices.
Second, the Ministers agreed on the need for better access to technical assistance for smallholder farmers and agribusinesses. They noted that collaboration between governments and industry is key to improved trade performance and an efficient regional manufacturing base. Therefore, they pledged to provide support for regional food security through increased exchange of technology and know-how with enhanced value chains leading directly from producers to consumers.
Third, with severe climate change hazards posing a threat to food security in the region, AMAF called for an urgent focus on climate change adaptation strategies including strengthening national food reserves, improving early warning systems, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. The ministers committed to deepen collaboration between member states in order to develop resilient food systems as well as ensure seed vigor against extreme weather conditions.
Fourth, in recognition of the role forests play in mitigating climate change as well as maintaining essential ecosystem services, ministers declared their political commitment not to convert natural forests into designed forests or other land use gains in accordance to international standards. Moreover, they were determined to strengthen forest fire monitoring systems across all member nations.
The 25 resolutions agreed upon at the 25th AMAF meeting could certainly provide direction for a stronger ASEAN community with greater agricultural productivity, improved access to food safety and security, enhanced forestry protection initiatives as well as increased value chains from farmers directly to consumers. We can only look forward to seeing these commitments become realities on-the-ground.