21 August 2021, Cambodia - Against the backdrop of COVID-19, governments in Southeast Asia are also challenged to ensure food security in a changing climate. In this context, ASEAN and One CGIAR have embarked on a partnership to take advantage of cross-cutting opportunities and lead regional and multilateral cooperation in the region.
In August, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Cambodia Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) organized a discussion on One CGIAR and the ASEAN-One CGIAR Collaboration, highlighting the importance of fostering greater economic linkages, shared capabilities, and a collective mission that remains relevant across various agri-food systems.
Jean Balie, Director General, IRRI & Regional Director, South East Asia and Pacific, One CGIAR, expressed high appreciation for the strong support of MAFF to One CGIAR, and explained the objectives of the OneCGIAR transition as well as the regional focus and integrated initiatives, and One CGIAR Initiatives for Cambodia.
The Cambodian delegation was led by H.E. Dr. Prum Somany, Director at Department of International Cooperation, MAFF, participated in the discussion and reaffirmed his agency’s commitment to working with IRRI and One CGIAR in transforming agri-food systems in Cambodia. Other members of the Cambodian delegation include Dr. Mak Soeun, Deputy Director General, General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) and Mr. Lor Bunna, Director, Cambodian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI).
Following the discussion, MAFF responded with an official statement of support for One CGIAR during the Special Senior Officials Meeting and 42nd Meeting of The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (Special SOM 42nd AMAF) on 23 August 2021.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, wishes to endorse IRRI and the
One CGIAR’s plan to develop a multi-year research development program together with
the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Member States. CGIAR centers, particularly IRRI, were instrumental in transforming the agriculture sector of Cambodia, shifting from a food insecure to a rice exporting country,” the statement read.
This expression of support follows an August 2020 statement from H.E. Veng Sakhon, Minister, MAFF, which conveyed MAFF’s support for the One CGIAR reform and emphasized the importance of building on the long-term relationship between Cambodia and IRRI.
Going forward, Balie requested continued support from MAFF in the co-development of strong science-based collaboration between One CGIAR, ASEAN Secretariat, and ASEAN Member States. This collaboration targets the development of a multi-year research for development program to support ASEAN’s Vision and Strategic Plan for Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry (2016-2025), and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.
MAFF believes that the science-based regional program between ASEAN and One CGIAR will be critical in addressing significant challenges in nutrition, sustainability, livelihoods, and climate change, particularly in Cambodia. Of particular interest to MAFF are the three themes of recovery, resilience and transformation, which includes the following priorities, among others:
- Germplasm exchange and evaluation network for food crops for regional food security through progress and achievement of the ASEAN RiceNet Program which aims to share & test the best rice breeding germplasm, develop climate resilient rice varieties faster with better quality & higher yields and to train scientists in ASEAN+3 to ensure continuity of research and capacity development,
- Rice value chain improvement by supporting market partners and the rice value chain through Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP),
- Climate smart production by working with partners on sustainable management of pests and diseases to ensure reduce losses and improve ecosystem services, monitoring and effective management of trans boundary pests such as Fall Armyworm,
- Mechanization and modernization of agriculture by implementing improvements of direct seeded rice system through mechanized row seeding, use of quality seeds and seed rate,
One CGIAR, together with MAFF and ASEAN, are committed to building and nurturing partnerships for sustainable agri-food systems transformation. Through a robust regional program, One CGIAR and ASEAN will be critical to addressing challenges at the national and regional levels, while ensuring the welfare of smallholder farmers, including women and youth in rural communities.