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One CGIAR conducts national technical consultation on food systems in Lao PDR

Excerpt: The discussion highlights the opportunities to transform the country’s food systems, including the sectors of agriculture, food, fisheries, and environment.

01 March 2022 (Vientiane, Lao PDR) - To understand the needs of Lao PDR’s food systems, key stakeholders of the country’s agriculture, food, fisheries and environment sectors including government officials and researchers collaborated in a national technical consultation held on 01 March 2022. This is the first in a series of in-country consultation workshops to be conducted across the ASEAN region.

The workshop was facilitated by CGIAR, a global partnership of international organizations engaged in research for development on food, land and water systems. One CGIAR is the dynamic reformulation of CGIAR’s capabilities, knowledge, assets, people, and global presence for a new era of interconnected and partnership-driven research towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lao PDR Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) Deputy Minister Kikeo Singnavong joined the event, highlighting the country’s dedication and commitment to identify opportunities for transforming their country’s food systems within the ASEAN context. Given that food system sustainability is a key development goal for Lao PDR, the importance of working together to benefit Lao citizens throughout the country should be emphasized.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the agricultural sector and the food chain in the region. At the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF), the Ministers emphasized the importance of investing in development in the agricultural sector, especially the rice research work of One CGIAR and related donors,” said Deputy Minister Kikeo Singnavong during the event.

“In light of this, I believe that the National Technical Consultation Meeting on ASEAN - One CGIAR Research and Development Project will make a significant contribution to the implementation of the ASEAN Food Security Strategy (SPA-FS) 2021-2025 and the ASEAN Food Security Framework (AIF),” he added.

Representatives from various government agencies, international and local non-government organizations, the Academe, and farmers groups shared their insights on how the Lao PDR food system could be transformed in the years to come. Aside from Deputy Minister Kikeo Singnavong, Dr. Chay Bounphanousay, Director General of National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI) also graced the event.

The information gathered from this series of workshops will be used in the regional research for development program proposal CGIAR intends to share with the ASEAN Secretariat. The proposal will be reviewed by ASEAN member states at the 14th ASEAN Technical Working Group on Agriculture and Research Development (ATWGARD).

The discussions zeroed in on 9 thematic areas to address comprehensively the needs of the country’s food, land and water systems:

  1. Policy, market integration, and trade,  
  2. Harnessing the use of local agricultural biodiversity,  
  3. Nourishing ASEAN megacities and peri-urban areas,  
  4. Youth and women entrepreneurship and technology, 
  5. Climate-smart agriculture and aquaculture, 
  6. Mechanization and modernization of agriculture,  
  7. Climate change and green recovery, 
  8. Strengthening cooperation through institutions, and  
  9. Germplasm exchange and evaluation network for crops, livestock, and fisheries for regional safety.

“Through partnership and collaboration, we have a significant opportunity here to transform our food, land and water systems and make them more resilient, adaptive, inclusive, equitable, and sustainable. Food systems transformation will help us not just address current challenges, but will also give us the capacity and adaptability to respond effectively to future risks and uncertainties,” said Jean Balié, CGIAR Regional Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, in a recorded message.

“Given the daunting task that the multiple, complex, and interrelated challenges present for us all, I truly believe that One CGIAR is a true partner of the ASEAN and its member countries to help define an ambitious program of work with a focus on achieving impact at scale,” Balié said.