Phl DA strengthens multilateral cooperation among Asian countries

Attended by 15 member countries working on inter-governmental and multilateral cooperation program, the Philippine Department of Agriculture, represented by DA-BAR, attended the 6th Asian Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (AFACI) General Assembly on 25 August to 3 September 2022 in Thimpu, Bhutan.

DA-BAR, serving as the national coordinating office of the Philippines to AFACI, was represented by DA-BAR assistant director for Research Support Services Dr. Anthony B. Obligado and Research Coordination Division assistant head Julia A. Lapitan, who also serves as the Philippine-AFACI national contact person.

A biennial convention, the said general assembly serves as a venue for knowledge-sharing, project development and evaluation, organizational policy review, and discussions of the emerging agricultural issues in the region. 

During the pre-event activity, Dr. Taek-Ryoun Kwon, director-general of  Rural Development Administration (RDA)-Technology Cooperation Bureau, underscored AFACI’s goal of securing better agriculture and food systems with best science, technology, and innovation. Further, ensuring sustainable agriculture and food security for all Asian and humankind through strengthened collaboration among member countries and with other partners. 

“This is a reflection of these collaborations. Together, AFACI advocates not only just for high-level attention and debate but also for global action on food and nutrition security,” he said. 

Honorable Dasho Thinley Namgyel, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and AFACI chairperson urged all member countries to work together and requested the AFACI Secretariat to help member countries achieve its goals and mission—further achieving higher level goals toward the fulfilment of Sustainable Development Goals especially, SDG 2 ending all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.   

Supported by RDA based in Jeonju, South Korea, AFACI aims to develop and disseminate agricultural technologies tailored to country-specific conditions. AFACI focuses on achieving increased food production and sustainable agriculture in the Asian Region. Anchored on RDA’s belief that science, technology, and human capital are key to any country’s development, AFACI also aims to help scientists and farmers build their capacities. 

Hosted by the Kingdom of Bhutan, the 6th AFACI General Assembly was attended by other member countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, Uzbekistan now serves as the newest member of AFACI. 

Philippines, in particular, has implemented 14 completed projects since 2010 and is currently working on six on-going projects.  Five of which are near completion while the other one is newly-implemented, titled Establishment of Asian Food Composition Database Network. Further, several AFACI member countries, including the Philippines, will start implementing the newly-funded project, titled Improvement of Rural Agricultural Technology Extension System in Asia (RATES), in 2023. 

Implemented by government  research institutions and state universities and colleges in the country, the five on-going projects near completion are on product processing, saline tolerant rice varieties, soil atlas, vegetable breeding, and integrated pest management. (### Ma. Eloisa H. Aquino)