Acknowledging the important of food security to keep the stability, and prosperity of the region, the ASEAN Member States signed the Agreement on ASEAN Food Security Reserve (AFSRB) in 1979. Under the Agreement, each ASEAN Member State should establish an ASEAN Emergency Rice Reserve (AERR), a sum total of the basic food stock (rice) maintained by each Member Country within its national border. Presently, the total earmarked quantity for the AERR stands at 87,000 metric tones.
Two projects related to food security are being implemented under the AMAF+3 mechanism, namely: East Asia Emergency Rice Reserve (EAERR) and the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS).
In response to the recent developments of soaring food prices, global financial crisis and an increasing concern on food security in the ASEAN region, the Thirtieth (30th) Meeting of AMAF held in Hanoi on 23 October 2008 endorsed the ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework and Strategic Plan of Action on ASEAN Food Security (SPA-FS) with the main goal of ensuring long-term food security and to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the ASEAN region. The 14th ASEAN Summit, held on 26 February – 1 March 2009 in Cha-am, Thailand had adopted the AIFS Framework and SPA-FS and issued a Statement of which the Leaders pledge to embrace food security as a matter of permanent and high priority policy and to encourage partnership with concerned institutions and agencies, dialogue partners and international organisations to pursue this important endeavour.
ASEAN established the “ASEAN General Guidelines on the Preparation and Handling of Halal Food” in the view to further expand intra-ASEAN trade in meat and meat-based products. The Guidelines was prepared based on and in line with the Association of Religious Ministers of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (MABIMS) Guidelines for Preparation of Food and Drink for Muslims and Codex General Guidelines for Use of the Term “Halal”. The Guidelines serves as a practical reference for food industry in the production and handling of halal food for more effective presence in the regional and international market.
ASEAN has developed the ASEAN Food Safety Network website (www.aseanfoodsafetynetwork.net) to provide useful information on food safety, such as SPS measures of various countries, issues in the international standards setting bodies (Codex, OIE, IPPC, etc.) as well as the works of various ASEAN bodies related to food safety.
Increasing of consumers’ awareness on food safety has prompted ASEAN to give strong attention on the use of agrochemical that resulted residues on treated agricultural produces. Works have been done to harmonise maximum residual levels (MRLs) of pesticides in agricultural produces that are traded in the region. To date, AMAF has adopted a total of 802 ASEAN harmonised MRLs for 63 pesticides.
Another step forward in the regional effort to control pesticide use to improve marketability of agricultural products and prevent environmental degradation is the establishment of pesticide database and network among ASEAN Member States. Through the coordination of Malaysia, the ASEAN website for pesticides regulatory authorities “aseanpest” (http://agrolink.moa.my/doa/aseanpest) provides a platform for sharing of information and databases as well as to allow for discussion, identification, prioritization, implementation and resolution of problems related to pesticide management. The website contains information and databases partly available to the general public, as well as some classified information and data accessible only to the regulatory authorities of ASEAN Member States.
With the objective to eliminate NTBs in the form of phytosanitary measures affecting ASEAN trade, the ASEAN Member Countries have finalized endemic pest list for rice-milled, citrus-fruit, mango-fruit, potato-tuber, and dendrobium orchids cut-flowers. Further works on harmonization of phytosanitary measures will be focused on the development of guidelines for harmonizing import procedures for the said commodities. AMAF during its 30th Meeting had adopted the ASEAN Phytosanitary (PS) Guidelines for the Importation of Rice-Milled.
ASEAN committed to enhance its international competitiveness of food and agriculture products to enable the region to be the leading producer of these products. A number of efforts have been undertaken in order to realise the Vision, including the enhancement of food control systems and procedures to assure the freer movement of safe, healthy and quality food within the region. The ASEAN Good Agricultural Practices (ASEAN-GAP) for fresh Fruit and Vegetables has been developed and adopted as a standard for the production, harvesting and post-harvest handling of fruits and vegetables in the region. ASEAN had also developed the ASEAN Standards for Mango, Pineapple, Durian, Papaya, Pumelo, Rambutan, Mandarin, Lansium, Guava, Mangosteen and Watermelon to ensure that these commodities are available fresh to the consumers after preparation and packaging.
The main barriers to develop the livestock industry in the region are the presence of infectious diseases in animals. Several animal diseases still afflict in some ASEAN Member Countries resulting on the economic loss. The diseases include: FMD, Classical Swine Fever, Newcastle Disease, and Avian Influenza. Recognizing that vaccination is the practical method to control the spread of these infectious diseases, ASEAN embarked on establishing standards for vaccines used in the livestock industry in the region to ensure that only vaccines which meet international standards for safety, efficacy, and quality are being used to protect animal health in the region. ASEAN also established several procedures and guidance related to vaccines productions which are published for the purpose of livestock industry in the region.
The resurgent outbreaks of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) remains a serious threat to the region and have drawn great attention of Member States to work closely and enhance theirs cooperation in strengthening animal diseases control programme, with priority diseases covered not just HPAI, but also included Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), and Classical Swine Fever (CSF). Taking into consideration the various existing initiatives and activities as undertaken by Member States and several donor agencies in the attempt to control and eradicate transboundary animal diseased (TADs) in the region, the AMAF recognises the need for a well-coordinated multi-agency and multi-sectoral approach among Member States as well as with the various partners, to ensure complementary efforts in current and planned activities.
Another effort to show ASEAN strong commitment and ownership in the regional disease control programme in the region is the establishment of the “ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund” (AHTF). The ASEAN contribution for establishment of the ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund (AAHTF) become an important signal to donor communities of ASEAN’s intention to facilitate and support long-term sustainability of animal disease control in the region. The Agreement for the Establishment of ASEAN Animal Health Trust Fund was signed by the AMAF in November 2006.
In order to promote international trade in livestock, especially among the Member Countries, a number of ASEAN Criteria for Accreditation of Livestock and Livestock Products Establishment have been developed.
A number of cooperative projects and activities in fisheries have been implemented among others, Development of Aquaculture, ASEAN Network of Fisheries Post Harvest Technology (FPHT), Harmonisation of Fishery Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, ASEAN-SEAFDEC Collaboration on Sustainable Fisheries Management in the Southeast Asia Region, and fisheries related projects under the ASEAN Australia Development Cooperation Programme (AADCP)
To promote sustainable aquaculture, ASEAN developed the Manual on Good Shrimp Farm Management Practices, Harmonization of Hatchery Production of Penaeus monodon (tiger prawn) in ASEAN, and Manual on Practical Guidelines for the Development of High-health Penaeus monodon Broodstoc. These manual had been translated into national language in some Member States for easier reference for the fish farmers. ASEAN has also developed Guidelines on Development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Health Certification and Quarantine Measures for the Responsible Movement of Live Food Finfish as a tool to reduce risks of fish diseases due to trans-boundary movement of live aquatic animals in the region.
As part of the ASEAN efforts to promote regional and international trade of fish products through the implementation of HACCP, the Hazards Guide – A Guide to the Identification and Control of Food Safety Hazards in the Production of Fish and Fisheries Products in the ASEAN Region has been compiled to act as reference and provide detailed guidance to regulators, SMEs and other interested parties on fish and fish products related hazards, hazards control and food safety progammes.
Collaboration between ASEAN and SEAFDEC for sustainable Fisheries development in Southeast Asia has been undertaken since 1998. A number of fisheries projects have been implemented throughout the years. To further enhance closer collaboration between the two organizations, ASEAN and SEAFDEC agreed to strengthen the implementation of regional fisheries programmes and mechanism by establishing the “ASEAN-SEAFDEC Strategic Partnership (ASSP)”. Toward this end, a Letter of Understanding (LOU) on the ASSP has been signed by the Secretary General of ASEAN and Secretary General of SEAFDEC in November 2007.
ASEAN is implementing strategic alliances (SA) projects in the following enterprises: data and information, agricultural production and marketing, coconut-by-product, agro-ecotourism, beef farming, carrageenan, and marketing beans and pulses. Among these projects, the SA Project on Beef Farming has made significant progress with the signing of a MOU between Johor State Farmers’ Organisation and Krida Satwa Cooperative of Indonesia for trading of goats of Ettawa (Jafnapari).
The ASEAN Cooperative Business Forum (ACBF) was established in 2006 with the objective to promote business linkages and trading among the potential agricultural cooperatives within ASEAN Member States, and to empower farmers, farmers groups, farmers organizations.
Agricultural training and extension
The ability of farmers to select, adapt and apply technologies plays a vital role in increasing agricultural production. ASEAN, in its efforts to educate their farmers has promoted and intensified the application of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), especially on fruits and vegetables as a comprehensive approach to improve crop quality and reduce crops losses. Development of training modules and regional trainings in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in fruits and vegetables for agricultural extension officers are carried out by the ASEAN Member States. Under the title “Think IPM and Take Action”, basic information about the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was published to assist extension workers build-up and strengthen their common understanding, which is essential in their working to help the farmers. ASEAN had also produced IPM training modules for durian, vegetable (cabbage & potato), rice, shallots, corn, mango, pamelo, and soybean.
In order to help national governments and non-governments organization in ASEAN to improve the effectiveness of the implementation of their national IPM programme, ASEAN established the ASEAN IPM Knowledge Network (http://ASEAN-IPM.searca.org). The IPM Knowledge Network is an initiative to accumulate the vast collection of knowledge capital on IPM that can be reused and shared by national IPM programmes in the ASEAN region. To do this, the ASEAN IPM established an electronic IPM Knowledge Management Facility, which ensures that IPM Knowledge is available at the point of need of programme implementers and policy makers. The ASEAN IPM Centre in the Philippines acts as the Database and Network Administrator. The Knowledge Hubs located in each ASEAN Member States are established and linked to the ASEAN IPM Centre.
Research and Development in Agriculture
Cooperation in the area of research and development in agriculture was started in 2005. A number of activities have been initiated including the establishment of the ASEAN Agricultural Research and Development Information System (ASEAN ARDIS), development of the ASEAN Directory of Agricultural Research and Development Centres in ASEAN, and the Guidelines for the Use of the Digital Information System.
ASEAN acknowledged the importance of the agricultural biotechnology as a tool to increase food productivity on a sustainable basis. However, at the moment, there is public concern on the use of biotechnology that need to be addressed by the respective authorities. ASEAN adopted the Guidelines on the Risk Assessment of Agriculture-related Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). The Guidelines serve to provide ASEAN Member States with a common understanding and approach when conducting scientific evaluations for the release of agriculture-related GMOs.
To enhance and strengthen the capacity building, ASEAN, in collaboration with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) Southeast Asia has organized a series of training workshops on the use of the ASEAN Guidelines on Risk-Assessment of Agriculture-related GMOs for the regulators and decision makers. Three training workshops on Safety and Risk Assessment of Agriculture-related Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) were organized in Singapore (2001), Kuala Lumpur (2002), Bangkok (2003), and Jakarta (2004).
To develop the important aspects of regulating GMO, ASEAN is implementing initiative on ASEAN Genetically Modified Food Testing Network. The Initiative is to assist ASEAN Member States to better utilise existing national resources on genetic modification and food safety, as well as gain better access to information on developing GM testing capabilities for food.
Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion
To promote trade in agriculture and forest products, ASEAN extended the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ASEAN Cooperation in Agriculture and Forest Products Promotion Scheme for the another five years, viz. 2004 to 2009. The MOU is used as a basis to pursue cooperation with the private sector and to coordinate joint positions on issues related to trade in ASEAN agriculture and forest products. The new MOU is now under consideration by the ASEAN Member States which will cover the following 11 products, Carrageenan and other Seaweeds, Cocoa, Coconut, Coffee, Forest Products (Timber and Non-Timber), Palm Oil, Peas and Beans, Pepper, Tapioca, Tea, and Tuna.
Forest is a very important natural resource for the ASEAN region in terms of economical, environmental and socio-cultural benefits. The increase forest production, both in terms of quantity and quality, and increase exports using methods that are economically and environmentally sustainable are still challenges in ASEAN. ASEAN cooperation in forestry involves working with Dialogue Partners, international organizations and third-parties such as Australia, Germany, Sweden, and FAO have been undertaken to address priority issues in the region.
The promotion of sustainable forest management (SFM) is of the utmost interest and priority to ASEAN Member States. This has led to the formulation of guidelines where it can be used as references for Member States in developing their respective country-specific national criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. In compliance with the international forestry reporting requirements on progress towards the achievement of sustainable forest management at the national and regional levels, the 29th AMAF Meeting on 1 November 2007 in Bangkok endorsed the followings: i) ASEAN Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Tropical Forests; ii) Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting Format for Sustainable Forest Management in ASEAN; and iii) ASEAN Guideline for the Implementation of IPF/IFF proposals for Action. Another reference used as a guide is the FAO Code of Practice for Forest Harvesting in Asia Pacific, which has been adopted by ASEAN to develop specific national codes and / or guidelines. The Ministers also declared the “Ministerial Statement on Strengthening Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG) in ASEAN” in view of reaffirming ASEAN’s commitment in combating illegal logging and its associated trade.
Under the ASEAN German Regional Forest Programme (ReFOP), the ASEAN Forest Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) had been established. It is recognised as an effective information tool, particularly in providing an electronic database and e-discussion template in support for activities of the ASEAN cooperation in forestry, ranging from forest certification process, ASEAN common position in international forest policy processes, implementation of CITES, and exchanging information on ASEAN herbal and medicinal plants and R&D matters.
Following to the endorsement of ASEAN Criteria and Indicators for Sustainable Management of Tropical Forest by AMAF, an online Monitoring, Assessment and Reporting (MAR) format in the ASEAN Forestry Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) website had been developed. This regional system is designed to complement and strengthen current country reporting on MAR towards a comprehensive regional reporting in achieving sustainable forest management.
Promotion of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources is the main agenda of the ASEAN Cooperation in CITES. It includes protection of wild fauna and flora from illegal exploitation. This is shown through declaration of ASEAN Statement on CITES and endorsement of the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora by the AMAF. As a tool in realising the commitments in the Statement, the ASEAN Wildlife Law Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) was launched in December 2005. The Network involves officials from CITES Authorities, Customs, Police, Prosecutors, Specialized Governmental Wildlife-law Enforcement Organizations and other relevant national law enforcement agencies.
Emerging and Cross-cutting Issues
In the process of working towards an ASEAN Community, there are also emerging and cross-cutting issues where broader coordination needs to be achieved. The issues that have been identified include impact mitigation and adaptation of climate change to food, agriculture and forestry, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures that deal with human health and animal/ plant health/ diseases, multi-sectoral cooperation on public health issues, etc.
Updated in May 09