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ERIA Kick-Off the Study for Building and Enhancing Sustainable Agriculture and Food System in ASEAN Countries

5 December 2022

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Jakarta, 5 December 2022:  The 1st Study Team Meeting of the Preliminary Scoping Study, a component of the Building and Enhancing Sustainable Agriculture and Food System project of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), was held online on 5 December 2022, attended by representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and experts from universities and research institutes of the 10 ASEAN Member States (AMSs).

During his opening remarks, Dr Pham Quang Minh, Head of the Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, who introduced ASEAN Regional Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture in ASEAN, which was endorsed by the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in October 2022. Dr Minh focused on the importance of sustainability and circularity of ASEAN agriculture. Also, he stressed the necessity of an action plan for the implementation of the guidelines as the follow-up. ‘This ERIA study will play a key role in collecting the necessary information for the implementation of the guidelines’ he said.

Mr Masanori Kozono, ERIA’s Policy Fellow and Co-leader of the project, explained the outline of the project and stated its aims of supporting AMSs in implementing the guidelines through ERIA’s research and other activities such as knowledge-sharing workshops. He said the scoping study will be carried out to identify the prioritized technical and policy areas to be focused on for building and enhancing sustainable agriculture and food system in each ASEAN country through field surveys in all AMSs.  He added that the field surveys would obtain information from key stakeholders on the implementation of ASEAN Regional Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture and identify priority strategies for realising sustainable agriculture and food systems.

After Dr Achmad Solikhin, Lead Consultant of the study, and Siti M Diyanah, ERIA Research Associate, explained details of the survey, representatives from universities and research institutions of the 10 AMSs shared their plans of country surveys, including the target commodities value chain, sample size, and others. They said field surveys were expected to collect data of priority areas for ensuring sustainability, readiness for sustainable agriculture, amongst others. All the study team members have chosen rice as the common crop to be focused on by AMSs. The other crops could be chosen based on the priorities of the countries.

During the discussion, Dr Errol Perera, Advisor to ASEAN Secretariat in sustainable agriculture, welcomed the ERIA’s project to support the implementation of the guidelines and said that AMSs have no other options but to be sustainable in agriculture and circularize agriculture and food wastes. Seven hundred million tons of agriculture and food waste a year in AMSs should be valorized.

Concluding the meeting, Dr Sahara, Head of the Economics Department of the IPB University and Advisory Consultant for the ERIA study, reminded the Study Team Members to make sure that selected respondents should represent actors along the value chain.

In his closing remarks, Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, ERIA’s Director of Research Strategy and Innovation, stressed that all Study Team Members should work as a team to capture related information on the implementation of sustainable agriculture in the ASEAN region.

This scoping study is expected to produce the initial findings by March 2023 which will be reported together with policy recommendations to the related meeting under ASEAN Sectoral Body.

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