Agriculture and Food Security Pillar

The LMI countries seek to further collective efforts to improve food security and agriculture sector growth throughout the Mekong region in an environmentally sustainable manner, building on and using best practices. Activities in all areas will be planned and implemented with full consideration of promoting gender equality and female empowerment, and addressing climate change, environmental, health, and nutritional concerns, thereby contributing to the comprehensive integration of these issues into regional food security and agricultural initiatives. The overlap of issues among the LMI Pillars will lead to synergistic collaborations among the various Ministries within each country, and will help to avoid contentious policies that benefit one sector to the detriment of another, adding to ongoing work in the LMI region.

1.Promote collaboration in research and development, extension, institutional capacity building, and human resources development.
  • Networking
    • Improve opportunities for dialogue between international and national researchers and educators; agriculture extension agents and private sector service firms; health experts, nutritionists, and agriculturalists; and agricultural policy makers and advocacy groups across the region. Ensure that women are included in these networking opportunities.
    • Build institutional and human capacity to share and utilize existing national and international food security databases (e.g. ASEAN, IFPRI, IRRI, FAO, WFP), including data on the impact of climate change on regional food security, nutritional status of vulnerable populations, the distinct roles of men and women in food production and utilization, and the gendered impacts of global climate change and food security.
    • Build institutional and human capacity to share and utilize ICT databases and approaches for agricultural extension services.
    • Establish a regional network of extension specialists and nutritionists that understand the needs of female and male farmers, the role of men and women in agricultural value chains, and exchange extension methodologies.
    • Leverage existing mechanisms and fora so that national policy makers of the five LMI countries can meet, exchange ideas, share lessons learned, and explore policy models to address food security issues, including a comparison of national agricultural strategies lessons learned; ensure that women are substantively involved in all aspects of the discussions.
  • Capacity Building
    • Provide women and men farmers with equal access to regional training on agricultural production, natural resource management, household nutrition / food utilization, resiliency, soil fertility, agricultural policies, and conservation practices that lead to great household productivity and nutritional status.
    • Provide women and men technicians with equal access to regional technical training on conducting farmer field schools, integrated pest management, pesticide safety, fertilizer quality, quality control of agricultural products, food safety, measuring Maximum Residue Limits of pesticides on agricultural products, good agricultural practices, and organic farming.
    • Support activities and training programs to improve the capacity for pest risk analysis, pest surveillance, diagnostics and inspections for key crop pests of the region such as the invasive coconut beetle (Brontispa longissima), cassava pink mealybug (Phenacoccus manihoti), and other migratory or invasive pests.
    • Improve disease surveillance / detection mechanisms to prevent the spread of livestock diseases including building knowledge of the various animal handlers (male, female, children) in the household on disease case definition and how to report. Such diseases include highly pathogenic avian influenza, foot and mouth disease (FMD), and Newcastle disease.
    • Share knowledge and best practices for balancing biofuel and food crops.
  • Research: improve adaptive research results and build human and institutional research capacity
    • Coordinate field trials for improved crop variety development/selection and the demonstration of new technologies and or management practices used at the farm level.
    • Exchange, on voluntary and mutually agreed terms, improved seed information or stocks to increase farmer adoption and local production in food insecure areas.
    • Exchange, on voluntary and mutually agreed terms, germplasm for regional and national seed banks.
    • Coordinate livestock breeding and animal genomics research and management practices and strengthen public and private veterinarian services and extension of best husbandry practices to improve overall productivity of animals.
    • Conduct research on farm machinery and eqipment for pre- and post-harvesting.
    • Conduct research on biological control and botanical pesticides.
    • Conduct collaborative research on reduced environmental impact, including the carbon footprint, of agricultural production.
    • Review innovative technologies for increased agricultural productivity and food storage and processing and how best to disseminate information and best practices to household producers.
    • Build capacity of women and men to gather, store, share, access, and analyze regional food security data.
    • Conduct research to compare how microcredit and land tenure contribute to food security in the region, so that member nations can share lessons and use successful policies as models.
    • Conduct research to identify practices contributing to heightened malnutrition and anemia in women and children.
  • Use WGs to identify strengths and gaps in each of the pillars;
  • Foster awareness of need for local, district, and provincial capacity to complement national capacity; and
  • Develop Public-Private Partnerships within each pillar to enhance program sustainability.
2.Identify agricultural policies and enhance the implementation of agreements to improve food production, access, quality, and nutrition through technical cooperation.
  • Leverage existing mechanisms and fora so that national policy makers of the LMI countries can meet, exchange ideas, share lessons learned, and explore policy models to address food security issues, including a comparison of national agricultural strategies lessons learned, especially for rice; ensure that women are substantively involved in all aspects of the discussions;
  • Compare national agricultural strategies and share lessons learned, especially for rice.
  • Conduct research to compare how microcredit and land tenure contribute to food security in the region, so that member nations can share lessons and use successful policies as models.
3.Enhance household capacity to meet food security and nutritional needs.
  • Review and share best practices and technologies that build household resilience to anticipate and manage shocks to food security.
  • Encourage countries to join the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, a country-led movement that supports nutrition-sensitive development including investment in food security, health, and short-and long-term economic growth.
  • Identify regional opportunities in the areas of maternal-child nutrition, infant and child feeding practices, household dietary quality and diversity, and access to nutrition-enhancing goods and services.
  • Work together to improve food safety through the dissemination of best practices, international standards, requirements, and capacity building and ensure that food safety information is available and accessible (i.e. designed for low literate populations, local language etc.)
4.Promote the implementation of sustainable land and water use management for agriculture and aquaculture.
  • Forge agreements for access to shared hydrological resources and integrated river basin management to ensure adequate water for secure and sustainable food production in each of the 5 Lower Mekong countries. This will include water for crops, wild and cultivated fish, livestock, household usage, and waterways for transport of food. Activities will take into account the different roles and responsibilities of men and women in water management. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) should participate in this process.
  • Share technology and policies to promote sustainable terrace and contour farming and water management.
5.Strengthen regional cooperation for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

Coordination of capture of fresh water and marine fish and other aquatic resources to ensure equitable access and availability. In the Lower Mekong, regional food security is highly dependent on protein from wild fish and other aquatic organisms, in addition to aquaculture. It is therefore imperative that upstream harvesting of aquatic resources does not significantly impact downstream access to these resources. Organizations to participate in this process could include ASEAN, FAO, the World Fish Center (WFC), the Southeast Asia Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia-Pacific (NACA), INFOFISH, and national / regional NGOs.

  • Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing
    • Develop and strengthen regulations, and surveillance and monitoring systems, over the time and place of freshwater fishing with regional impact.
    • Build on existing marine fishing agreements to create sustainable no-fishing zones, with multinational patrols, between territorial waters to serve as barriers to illegal fishing, reservoirs of aquatic resources, and as fish breeding grounds. Use other marine agreements (e.g. Myanmar /Bangladesh) as models.
  • Research
    • Conduct or review research on how damming would affect fishing, rice production, biodiversity, nutrition, food security, access to water for domestic use, and any negative or positive impacts on men’s and women’s roles and incomes in these sectors.
    • Assess and forecast changes in marine resources and environment in order to forecast sustainable marine fishing potential.
    • Support measures to rejuvenate marine resources and ecosystems
  • Networking
    • Share knowledge and technology for fresh water and marine fish breeding, for standards on fishing vessels’ construction to reduce post-harvest loss, for eco-labeling standards, for disease management, and water and effluent management (aquaculture)
    • Establish an information-sharing platform for private and public sector partners
6.Encourage trade of agricultural inputs and products to address food security needs.
  • Work to improve access to credit, access to land, and capacity building for women so that men and women farmers benefit equally from trade opportunities in both regional and global markets.
  • Implement existing trade agreements related to agriculture and SPS that enables farmers’ access to vital inputs such as fertilizer, machinery, improved seed, and access to markets.
  • Work together to obtain Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) certification for producers of key export crops for the region to ensure that fruits and vegetables are produced in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
  • Adopt and implement international sanitary and phytosanitary standards established by Codex Alimentarius, World Organization for Animal Health, and International Plant Protection Convention unless there is a scientific justification for a different level of protection.
  • Develop and enforce science-based measures consistent with international standards, and build capacity, to regulate:
    • Transboundary livestock movement
    • Maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides and additives on foods
    • Transboundary movement of illegal pesticides
7.Promote public-private cooperation for agri-business development and investment.
  • Review innovative approaches to public / private cooperation for technology transfer to:
    • Increase agricultural productivity, including agro forestry and fisheries for local and regional markets.
    • Improve the quality and safety of agricultural products that respond to local and regional markets, including the development of value added products and cold chain facilities.
    • Improve post-harvest management.
  • Provide opportunities for increased public-private dialogue, such as forums that bring together appropriate private sector groups to work collaboratively with policy makers and other stakeholders to address food security challenges.
  • Conduct research to develop recommendations for policies creating a favorable environment for foreign investments in Public/Private Partnerships in the LMI region to expand agribusiness services and new product development in response to local and regional market needs.
  • Engage multi-lateral and private financial institutions and companies to assess and target infrastructure investment needs to promote agricultural growth.

 

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