Mekong Countries Reach New Heights of Cooperation in Agriculture

SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – A far-reaching program to accelerate cooperation in agricultural development among the six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-region or GMS – Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam – was finalized in the historic city of Siem Reap.

More than 80 delegates from the governments of the Mekong countries, research institutes, aid agencies and private sector agricultural companies attended the 3-day meeting. It was the fourth meeting of the GMS Working Group on Agriculture which is part of the overall economic cooperation program in the GMS, supported by ADB.

The meeting was held to discuss a strategic framework for enhancing cooperation in agriculture, and prepare for the first GMS agriculture ministers’ meeting schedule to be held in Beijing, China in April 2007.

Participants were welcomed by the Governor of Siem Reap Province, His Excellency Sou Phirin. The meeting was opened by the Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry of Cambodia, His Excellency Chan Tong Yves.

In his remarks, Mr. Chan Tong Yves noted the tremendous progress made by the Kingdom of Cambodia in achieving food self-sufficiency in a relatively short period of time. He mentioned that Cambodia wishes to end the vicious cycle of poverty and move beyond food security to better food quality, safety and exportability.

Urooj Malik, Director of Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources of ADB, highlighted the importance of agriculture in the region – especially to the poor.

“Of a regional population of about 316 million, two thirds live in rural areas and depend on subsistence agriculture,” Mr. Malik said.

The meeting approved the strategic framework for cooperation in agriculture in the GMS and a five-point core agriculture support program.

The program focuses on cross-border trade, information sharing, capacity building at all levels from farmers to research institutions, preparedness for agricultural and natural crises, and strengthening the linkages and partnerships among agricultural institutions and other stakeholders.

The program is expected to be endorsed by the agriculture ministers of these countries at their meeting in Beijing in April 2007.

Source: ADB (retrieved: 30/01/2007)

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