Farm ministers in Asian ‘monsoon belt’ commit to sustainable food systems

AGRICULTURE MINISTERS from the Philippines, Japan, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos have committed to making their agricultural production and food systems more sustainable.

Philippine Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, Japan Agriculture Minister Kotaro Nogami, Cambodia Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon, Laos Agriculture Minister Phet Phomphiphak, Vietnam Agriculture Vice-Minister Le Quoc Doanh, and Singapore Food Agency CEO Lim Kok Thai made the commitment at a virtual meeting on July 19, intended as a preliminary discussion ahead of the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September.

The six ministers said in a joint statement that international collaboration is vital to introducing sustainable agricultural methods and technology such as machinery, digital tools, and pest control methods.

They also said steps will be taken to promote and broaden collaboration through joint research projects and existing frameworks for cooperation to attain a balance between productivity and environmental protection.

“As countries belonging to the Monsoon Asia region, we share several regional particularities with regards to agricultural production, including distinctive climate conditions such as high humidity and high temperature, abundance of paddy fields, and high percentage of small- and medium-sized farmers,” the ministers said.

The six ministers said innovation in agriculture and other related industries is important in achieving sustainable production and food systems and can be enhanced by encouraging private sector investment.

“Taking into account these regional particularities, we will make our maximum efforts to achieve the goals of sustainable agricultural production and food systems as well as the Sustainable Development Goals, while recognizing that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution leading to those goals, including an approach to the reduction of chemical pesticides and fertilizer usage,” the ministers said.

Mr. Dar said the Department of Agriculture supports any international or regional collaboration that will result in improved farm productivity, competitiveness, and profitability, while also allowing for the resilience and sustainability of agriculture smallholders.

“It is incumbent upon us to carefully scrutinize all commitments and solutions and draw deeply as we jointly work to build a better world — where agricultural production and food systems are sustainable and resilient, and our citizens enjoying affordable, safe and nutritious food,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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