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ERIA President Speaks at 45th Meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry

4 October 2023

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Kuala Lumpur, 4 October 2023: Professor Tetsuya Watanabe, President of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and South Asia (ERIA), led an ERIA delegation at the 45th Meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) and related meetings, in Kuala Lumpur.  

The series of agriculture ministerial meetings commenced with remarks at the opening ceremony by Chan Foong Hin, Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, highlighting the importance of cooperation among ASEAN Member States (AMS) to ensure food security and sustainable development.

Speaking at the 45th AMAF Meeting, Prof Watanabe outlined ERIA’s on-going and planned research projects to make agri-food systems in ASEAN more resilient and sustainable, in order to address the multitude challenges of the agriculture sector, including worsening climate change and escalating geopolitical tensions. He introduced the findings of ERIA's on-going study on sustainable agriculture, including the limited dissemination of digital technologies in ASEAN's agri-food systems, and the large gap among countries in the diffusion of emerging innovative technologies.

He also recommended the formulation of a practical action plan containing achievable targets, key performance indicators, timelines, and potential collaborative partners to implement the ASEAN Guidelines for Sustainable Agriculture, and committed ERIA’s support in developing the action plan.

Reflecting the results so far of the on-going study, Prof Watanabe announced that ERIA will start a new project for accelerating the digital transformation of agri-food systems in ASEAN. The project's key elements are: a comprehensive study for applying digital technologies to enhance productivity and sustainability in agri-food systems; the formulation of an action plan for promoting the use of digital technologies in agri-food systems; the development of a digital platform for showcasing innovative digital solutions; and organising capacity-building activities.

Prof Watanabe concluded his presentation by introducing the ERIA Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre (E-DISC), which offers a number of functions and opportunities to agri-food systems and  stakeholders, such as providing actionable policy recommendations, serving as a platform for agri-food stakeholder engagement, and functioning as a hub for human resources development.

Following the AMAF meeting, Prof Watanabe participated in the ASEAN Japan Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (AJMAF) meeting. In his speech, Prof Watanabe shared the concept of the Symposium for Promoting Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems through Innovation: ASEAN's Initiatives and Japan's Contribution. This ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation 50th anniversary symposium aims to facilitate the mutual exchange of recent policy initiatives, knowledge and technologies on resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems toward securing food security in the region. The symposium will be held on 21 November 2023 at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, and will be attended by government officials, representatives of agri-businesses and academia from ASEAN Member States and Japan. The ASEAN Secretariat and the Japan government will co-host the symposium with ERIA’s technical support.

In a break between meetings, Prof Watanabe exchanged views on food security, sustainable agriculture, digital transformation in agriculture, and the possibility of future collaboration with AMAF Leaders. In a bilateral meeting with Chan Foong Hin, Malaysia's Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Prof Watanabe expressed his willingness to collaborate even closer with the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture, by conducting research related to food security and sustainable agriculture.

He also paid a courtesy call to Ichiro Miyashita, Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and talked with Dato Dr Abdul Manaf Metussin, Minister of Primary Resources and Tourism, Brunei Darussalam; Dr Phet Phomphiphak, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Lao PDR; and Datuk Seri Mohamad bin Sabu, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Malaysia; respectively, to seek the possibility of further collaboration.

Prior to the ministerial meetings, Masanori Kozono, ERIA Policy Fellow, reported ERIA’s research activities on agriculture and food systems at the Senior Officials Meeting of the 45th AMAF held on 2 October.

ERIA will continuously address the challenges toward achieving sustainable and resilient agriculture and food security in the ASEAN region through its research and other activities.

ERIA is mentioned in the Joint Press Statement of the 45th AMAF and AJMAF:

The Joint Press Statement of the 45th AMAF

  1. The Meeting emphasised the role of digitalisation in enhancing productivity, sustainability, and resilience in the food, agriculture and forestry sectors in the ASEAN region, and further agreed that to fully harness the benefits of digitalisation, it is imperative to engage partners and research institutions such as Economic Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to share knowledge and create a supportive ecosystem for digital transformation in the agriculture sector. In this regard, the meeting reiterated the importance of the ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting the Utilisation of Digital Technology for the ASEAN Food and Agricultural Sector and encouraged relevant stakeholders to work with ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat on this important agenda.
  2. The Meeting appreciated the support extended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations FAO)), Canadian Trade and Investment Facility for Development (CTIF), Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Economic Research Institute for East Asia and ASEAN (ERIA), International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Grow Asia, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for ASEAN Cooperation in Food Agriculture and Forestry 2016-2025.

 The Joint Press Statement of AJMAF

  1. The Meeting appreciated ERIA’s support for organizing the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation 50th Anniversary Symposium on Promoting Resilient and Sustainable Agriculture and Food System through Innovation to be held on 21st November 2023 in Jakarta.

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