15 September 2017 – On 6-8 September, CABI attended the Second Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-2) hosted in Siem Reap by the Government of Cambodia and led by the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The theme of the meeting was, GMS: Towards inclusive, safe and sustainable agricultural value chains, with agriculture leaders attending from the six GMS countries (Cambodia, People's Republic of China, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam).
The primary focus of the meeting was to secure Agriculture Ministers’ endorsement of the GMS Strategy for promoting safe and environment-friendly agro-based value chains (GMS-SEAP Strategy) and the the Siem Reap Action Plan 2018-2022, as well as seek guidance on the future of the Core Agriculture Support Program (CASP) and agricultural cooperation in the GMS. CASP helps this region attain its goal of becoming a leading producer of safe food using climate-friendly agriculture practices.
Representing CABI, Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Director of Memberships, was invited as a panellist to the Development Partners Forum, held on 7 September. She shared CABI’s work in the GMS region around the four pillars of the GMS-SEAP Strategy, and support for the implementation of the GMS-SEAP Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan 2018-2022.
Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang (4th from left) with some senior members of the Chinese Delegation.
Dr Zhang highlighted two examples of CABI’s programmes, in which synergies may be developed with CASP, one being CABI’s flagship programme, Plantwise, and the other the Joint Laboratory for Biosafety between the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and CABI.
“CABI has a long history of close partnerships with all six GMS countries and ADB, and has been active in GMS. With the support of donor agencies, the Plantwise programme has been implemented in collaboration with national partners of five GMS countries, having positive impact on sustainable development of agriculture in these countries. Using Cambodia as an example, working with the General Directorate of Agriculture, CABI and partners have established 30 Plant Clinics, trained 58 Plant Doctors and developed 65 factsheets. We have also implemented a large number of projects in GMS countries, from the development of the National Strategy for Plant Health Systems in Myanmar, SPS capacity development in ASEAN, increasing rice and maize production around the Mekong sustainably, to producing fruit crops through innovative and market-orientated Integrated Pest Management in Vietnam,” said Dr Zhang.
“Established in 2008, the Joint Laboratory for Biosafety between Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and CABI has facilitated south-south co-operations, triangular collaboration, and Chinese technology transfers. One of the good examples was the project, namely Intra-regional transfer of biologically-based plant protection technology to improve livelihoods of small holder maize farmers in the Greater Mekong sub-region. Now CABI and Chinese partners are working closely on the planning and development of the Belt & Road (B&R) Plant Protection International Consortium, and B&R Plant Protection Co-operation Plan to promote best pest management practices in plant protection. This will no doubt contribute to agricultural sustainable development, facilitation of trade, food security, food safety, and poverty alleviation in GMS and beyond,” continued Dr Zhang.
The event in detail
The AMM-2 meeting was opened by H.E. Hor Namhong, Deputy Prime Minister, Kingdom of Cambodia, and well attended by representatives from the six GMS countries, development and implementing partners, the private sector and other stakeholders.
The meeting was of particular significance as this year marks the 25th Anniversary of the GMS Program and the 15th Anniversary of the establishment of the Working Group for Agriculture. In 1992, with assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the six countries of the GMS entered into a program of subregional economic cooperation, designed to enhance economic relations.
Alongside seeking Agriculture Ministers’ endorsement of the GMS Strategy, the meeting updated development and implementing partners and other key stakeholders such as the private sector on the progress of CASP, emphasizing the need for their continued engagement and support whilst highlighting opportunities for investment in sustainable and inclusive agriculture value chains in the GMS.
The overriding theme of the regional strategy for 2018–2022 will be on establishing a food safety regime in the GMS that aligns with regional and international standards. Embedded in the food safety focus is the adoption of environment- and climate-friendly agriculture technologies and practices. The attainment of the vision for the GMS-SEAP Strategy value chains rests upon four pillars: (i) policies, (ii) infrastructure, (iii) knowledge, and (iv) marketing. The Ministers formally endorsed the GMS SEAP Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan, and stated their commitment to its successful implementation.
Several side events were organised at AMM-2, aimed at: (i) validating policy recommendations on promoting food safety, and sustainable and inclusive value chains with participating stakeholders and the wider international business community, (ii) creating awareness for the diverse agro-tourism-environment products and locations available in the GMS, (iii) connecting these products and services to market networks and developing potential business partnerships, (iv) exchanging best practices on the agro-tourism-environment nexus and exploring areas for collaboration among key stakeholders from these industries.
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