Writer: Duangruetai Surasakjinda, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
With a new set of Sustainable Development Goals on the table to be formally adopted by world leaders at the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25 – 27 September 2015, food and nutrition security remains one of the top priorities of the post-2015 global development agenda.
The governments of Lao PDR and Myanmar showed their commitments in the fight against hunger by launching the National Zero Hunger Challenge (ZHC) which aims to eradicate hunger and ensure food security for all.
In June this year, Lao PDR and Myanmar have received special FAO awards for their achievements in the fight against hunger. Both countries have reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG-1c) which aimed to reduce the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by half between 1990 and 2015. According to the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 published by FAO, IFAD and WFP, the prevalence of undernourishment has decreased from 42.8% in 1990-92 to 18.5% in Lao PDR while in Myanmar the prevalence has decreased from 62.6% to 14.2%.
The governments of Lao PDR and Myanmar reiterated the importance of food and nutrition security for their countries by organizing the Policy Dialogue on Food and Nutrition Security and the ASEAN Integrated Food Security (AIFS) Framework in collaboration with a German regional cooperation project’s ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) on 10 July 2015 in Vientiane and in Nay Pyi Taw on 3 September 2015. Both events brought together stakeholders from concerned Ministries, Development Partners, Civil Society Organizations and the private sector. The Dialogues provided a platform to discuss and exchange information on key challenges, issues and roles of responsible agencies and the contribution of Sustainable Agrifood Systems towards food security and to agree on recommendations, priority actions and cooperation mechanism to foster collective efforts in implementing national policies and strategies which are in accordance with regional and global policy frameworks for food and nutrition security including the AIFS Framework.
Lao PDR and Myanmar have received special FAO awards for their achievements in the fight against hunger.
Lao PDR has implemented a number of policies and strategies to strengthen food and nutrition security in the country including the Agricultural Development Strategy to 2025 and Vision to 2030, the Rice Production for National Food Security Action Plan, and the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action for 2010 – 2015. The Policy Dialogue highlighted the importance of Sustainable Agrifood Systems, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), sustainable water management, research and development, promotion of farmers groups, and Public-Private Partnerships in ensuring food security in the country. To achieve national food and nutrition security in Lao PDR, the Policy Dialogue recommended that more efforts should be put into strengthening cooperation among agencies at national and local levels, measuring of progress and achievements of food and nutrition security interventions, and providing capacity development of both government personnel and farmers.
Myanmar is in the process of finalizing the Myanmar National Action Plan for Food and Nutrition Security (MNAPFNS) to be launched by the end of 2015. The Action Plan shall offer a 10-year vision and timeframe providing an overarching framework and priority interventions to guide sectoral operational plans. To strengthen food and nutrition security in the country, the Policy Dialogue identified priority actions which include policy, institutional and legislative improvements, development of enabling support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), product and product standard development, development of market and price information systems, nutrition improvement, and access to finance and investment. In view of continuation to develop sustainable agriculture and ensuring its contribution to national food and nutrition security, the Policy Dialogue put an emphasis on management of natural resources, effective use and optimization of agricultural inputs, climate smart agriculture, harvesting and post-harvest efficiency, capacity development and effective extension services, and investment in agribusiness and value chain development.
To support the implementation of the new Action Plan and relevant policies and strategies, the Policy Dialogue recommended that Myanmar should provide capacity development of government officials, develop food and nutrition security monitoring and evaluation, and strengthen inter-agency collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders in agriculture such as private sector, civil society, academic and research institutes.
ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems Project took note the discussions and recommendations from these Policy Dialogues to provide further support to Lao PDR, Myanmar and other ASEAN Member States to strengthen their capacities in implementing food and nutrition security policies and strategies that are in line with regional and global policy frameworks. Tailor-made trainings on food and nutrition security at national level are being planned in collaboration with the local partners to address the needs and priority actions raised during the Policy Dialogues.