ASEAN committed to improve food security

Rokiah Mahmud

Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong attended the 42nd Meeting of The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (the 42nd AMAF), the 20th Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry Plus Three (20th AMAF+3), and the 6th ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (6th AIMMAF) via video conference on Wednesday.

The 42nd AMAF Meeting was chaired by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia Veng Sakhon.

The ASEAN ministers reiterated the importance of the Statement of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry in Response to the Outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) to Ensure Food Security, Food Safety and Nutrition in ASEAN released on April 15. The meeting expressed satisfaction on the progress made in the implementation of the Strategic Plan of Food Agriculture and Forestry (SP-FAF) 2016-2025, including the achievement of key deliverables in 2020. The ASEAN ministers endorsed the Mid-Term Review of the Vision and Strategic Plan for ASEAN Cooperation in Food.

SP-FAF, 2016-2025 and its Sectoral Plans of Action (SPAs), 2016-2020, highlighted the key challenges, opportunities and recommendations for the sector in the years to come. The ministers noted the progress in the implementation of the key deliverables for the food, agriculture and forestry sector in 2020, and adopted 10 indicative deliverables across livestock, crops, fisheries and forestry in 2021. The meeting also endorsed the new ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Food Security (SPAFS) 2021-2025 to ensure long-term food security and to improve the livelihoods of farmers.

The ASEAN ministers adopted the Resolution and Plan of Action on Sustainable Fisheries for Food Security for the ASEAN Region Towards 2030, which outlines the priority actions for improving food security and improving the livelihoods of ASEAN people dependent on the harvesting, farming and marketing of fish and fishery products.

A screen capture of Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Ali bin Apong at the 42nd AMAF

Meanwhile, in a joint statement for the 20th AMAF+3, the ASEAN ministers reaffirmed on the commitment to ensuring sustainable food sources and the unimpeded flow of food in the region and recognised the important role of ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR), and the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS) in reducing excessive price volatility of food, and agreed to continue our efforts to effectively implement the APTERR and AFSIS to ensure a stable supply of emergency rice reserves.

The ASEAN ministers were pleased with the progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation Strategy (APTCS) 2016-2025 in the strategic areas of strengthening food security, sustainable forest management, climate change mitigation and adaptation, animal and plant health and disease control, capacity-building and human resource development, strengthening of information system and knowledge networking and exchange, enhancing productivity, quality and marketability of agricultural products, and research and development.

The ASEAN ministers also noted the serious threat of Fall Armyworm to agriculture and food security of the region and encouraged the ASEAN Plus Three countries to support the implementation of the ASEAN Action Plan on Fall Armyworm 2020 – 2025. The ASEAN ministers also congratulated the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on 60 years of service, and for its contribution of rice varieties, rice research and capacity building for the region.

The ASEAN ministers also conveyed their appreciation on the progress of the Research Project on Cold Chain Development and Application of Digital Technologies to FVC, towards Higher Value Added of ASEAN Agriproducts that the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) is implementing, and noted the utilisation of digital technology is one of the important cooperation areas for development of the ASEAN food value chain.

The ASEAN ministers on Agriculture and Forestry extended their appreciation to the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea for the continuous support and commitment to enhancing the ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry. The next meeting will be held at the 21st Meeting of AMAF Plus Three in Indonesia in 2021.

At the 6th AIMMAF, co-chaired by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Cambodia and Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare of India Kailash Choudhary, the ASEAN ministers reaffirmed the commitment to ensuring the unimpeded flow of safe and nutritious agricultural produce in the region. The ASEAN ministers highlighted the progress made in the implementation of the Medium-Term Plan of Action for ASEAN-India Cooperation in Agriculture and Forestry (2016–2020) particularly in strengthening the regional capacity on the use of science-based interventions and sharing good agricultural practices for the overall development of the region, and strengthening collaborations through strategic expert interactions in agriculture, livestock and fishery sectors.

The ASEAN Ministers adopted the Medium-Term Plan of Action for ASEAN-India Cooperation in Agriculture and Forestry (2021-2025) and tasked senior officials on the implementation of the Plan of Action particularly the priority projects relating to the ASEAN-India fellowship for higher education in agriculture, exchange visits for farmers in ASEAN and India, climate-smart agriculture, application of robotics and drones in agriculture production and electromagnetic waves in food processing, promotion of post-harvest technology for fruits and vegetables, and trans boundary diseases and health management in agriculture, the ministers said.