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ERIA Supports Lao PDR's 2024 ASEAN Chairmanship: ASEAN Workshop on Priority Economic Deliverables in Agriculture Sector

5 March 2024

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Vang Vieng, 5-7 March 2024: The ASEAN Secretariat, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR, and ERIA jointly organised a three-day workshop to discuss the two priority economic deliverables (PEDs) in agriculture sector for Lao PDR’s 2024 ASEAN Chairmanship in Vang Vieng, Lao PDR on 5-7 March. The workshop was designed to: identify challenges and opportunities; share knowledge, lessons learned, and best practices to address crop burning reduction; and identify the key strategic priorities and practical actions to promote sustainable agriculture.

Participants comprised representatives of the ASEAN technical working groups, the ASEAN Secretariat, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Lao PDR, international organisations, the private sector, and ERIA. This workshop also engaged representatives from Timor-Leste and was attended by about 60 participants.

The workshop followed an statement at the 45th Meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in October 2023 for the development of the ASEAN Action Plan for Sustainable Agriculture and the ASEAN Guidelines for Reducing Crop Burning as the PEDs of the Lao PDR Chairmanship 2024. ERIA, as an international organisation and think tank dedicated to supporting the sustainable development of ASEAN, is engaged in the development of these PEDs.

In the opening session of the three-day workshop, Dr Thatsaka Saphangtong, Director General of the Department of Planning and Cooperation in the Ministry, said in his welcoming remarks that the initiatives will have a positive impact on sustainability in the agriculture sector across the ASEAN region.

Satvinder Singh, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for the ASEAN Economic Community, delivered his opening remarks via video and said agriculture is a vital sector in providing sustenance, ensuring food security, rural prosperity, and economic growth. Following the opening remarks, Dr Pham Quang Minh, Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division, ASEAN Secretariat stressed the important role of the private sector in sharing best practices in sustainable agriculture and crop burning reduction. HE Satvinder Singh and Dr Minh expressed their gratitude for ERIA’s contribution to the development of PEDs, including organising workshops and knowledge input.

Masanori Kozono, Senior Policy Fellow of ERIA, also said in his opening remarks the workshops would mutually share experience, knowledge, and initiatives on crop burning reduction and discuss practical action for realising sustainable agriculture. He said ERIA had accumulated knowledge in the decarbonisation and digitalisation of agriculture, which are key priority areas for promoting sustainable agriculture and will contribute to the development of the Action Plan through knowledge input.

The workshop saw interactive discussions and activities among the participants. On the first day, there was an intense discussion on crop burning reduction. Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, ERIA Director for Research Strategy and Innovation, shared his insights on climate finance and carbon market development linked to crop burning reduction. He explained the importance and opportunities of resource management, innovative financial mechanisms, and carbon markets as applicable to the agriculture sector in general and small farmers in particular.

Kozono then introduced a new ERIA research project to support ASEAN Member States (AMS) in reducing crop burning, Case Studies for Crop Burning Reduction in the ASEAN Region. AMS shared best practices and challenges related to crop burning reduction, with almost all facing similar challenges, such as limited access to finance and technology, and farmers' poor awareness regarding the negative impact of crop burning.

On the second day, the workshop focused on the development of the Draft Action Plan for Sustainable Agriculture, to which AMS and ASEAN partners gave their inputs. The AMS agreed the private sector possesses a significant role in sustainable agriculture and crop burning reduction.

The workshop ended with an organic farming site visit on the third day, so all participants could learn about organic farming as a practice of sustainable agriculture in Vang Vieng, Lao PDR.

The discussion of the two PEDs will continue toward endorsement by AMAF and adoption by the ASEAN Summit later this year. ERIA will continue to support the development of these PEDs.

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