April 3-5: The fifth Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) General Assembly was held in Laos PDR at Lao Plaza Hotel, Vientiane. It was organised by the Rural Development Administration (RDA) and National Agriculture and Forestry Institute (NAFRI) of Laos PDR.
The Assembly shared the AFACI project progress and discussed future direction to increase performance of each project. It was attended by more than 90 delegates including the Minister, vice Ministers and other signatories from its member countries and RDA, Korea. Representatives from its partner organisations, Korean Embassy in Laos PDR, KOICA and KOPIA Centres also attended it.
The Assembly highlights included the signing of implementing arrangement with new partner organisations, presentation of five most-outstanding projects, election of new chair group, selection of the new 2018 projects, amendment of the regulation of General Assembly and field visits to Laos’s agricultural institutes and sites.
The Assembly elected the Hon’ble Yeshey Dorji, Minister for Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan as the Chairperson and Mr. Cheattho Prak, the Deputy Director General, General Directorate of Agriculture, Cambodia as the vice Chairperson for three years. As a customary practice, the next Assembly will be hosted by the country of the Chairperson and will take place in Bhutan in 2021.
As the chairperson and on behalf of the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Minister congratulated and thanked the Korean Government for hosting the AFACI Secretariat in Korea and other member countries for coming together to join this great initiative. He also congratulated the outgoing Chairman, Dr. Bounthong Bouahom, Laos PDR for his successful tenure and consistent guidance on AFACI activities and for hosting the 5th General Assembly.
He also thanked RDA, Korea for its financial support and congratulated the dynamic team at AFACI Secretariat for their active engagement and guidance provided to its member countries in implementing the projects. He urged all member countries and partner organisations to strive hard for fulfilling the AFACI aspirations and goals.
The Assembly also endorsed two new projects namely, ‘Selection and Dissemination of Elite Salt Tolerant Rice varieties’ and ‘Agricultural Products Processing Technology’.
The AFACI, an agricultural technology cooperative was established in 2009 by RDA, Korea to help resolve common agricultural issues in Asia. It aims to solve agricultural common issue by sharing knowledge and information on agricultural technology. It also aims to develop the foundation of a developed agri-food industry and established technology transfer system to its member countries.
AFACI today has 14 member-countries namely Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Korea where Bhutan and Myanmar joined in 2016.
Currently, 9 projects are being implemented across the member nations targeted at building resilience against common agricultural issues such as climate change, pests and diseases and improving technology among others which are aimed at achieving food self-security and alleviating the farmers’ poverty.
Through the various projects and allied activities, a lot of capacity building initiatives such as international trainings, program workshops and symposiums are being organised and benefits are being derived through exchange of expertise and knowledge.
Bhutan has been implementing nine small, but useful projects through the grant from RDA, Korea. The projects ranges from sustainable farming technology, building information system for pest management, plant and animal genetic resources, good agriculture practices, seeds and agriculture information technology building. Soon, the new project on agricultural products processing technology will be operated in Bhutan. So, far the Ministry has been able to receive about Nu. 22 M grant through these projects.
Reported by Kencho Thinley, Chief Planning Officer, Policy and Planning Division
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