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Greater Mekong Subregion Economic Cooperation Program Welcome Remarks

H.E. SAN Vanty, Under Secretary of State of MAFF Eighth Meeting of the Working Group on Agriculture (WGA-8) Siem Reap, Cambodia, October 24, 2011

Mr. Javed Mir, Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division Southeast Asia Department (SERD), ADB Distinguished GMS Delegates Distinguished Representatives from our Development Partners and the Private Sectors, Ladies and Gentlemen and Friends, Today, it is my great honor to be with you in the annual WGA-8 event. On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, I would like to warmly welcome you to Siem Reap, the historical city of Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for spending your precious time to participate in this WGA-8 meeting for which I am very honored to serve as a chairman. I would also like to extend a very special thank to ADB for its valuable assistance, supports and excellent arrangements, without which this meeting would not have been made possible. This important meeting is taking place in times when some of our GMS countries are experiencing severe flood disasters, including Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam, and Lao PDR. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the people, we would like to extend our deep thanks and gratitude to all countries and development partners for providing generous emergency relief to Cambodia. Distinguished Delegates, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to note that we, as a region, have indeed made substantive progress in all fronts, including agriculture, over the past years. In the aggregate, the achievements that we have made could be attributed to some key factors, including, economic and political stability in our region, timely and effective policy responses by country members, and strong supports from our development partners that have helped propelling investments from both the public and private sectors. I believe all of you would agree with me that we must always work together closely to identify and renew our collective effort mechanisms that would enable us to respond more effectively and efficiently to all forms of critical emerging challenges and issues, thereby retaining the dynamics and strengths of our region for the sake of the regions mutual interests. In this connection, I would say that todays WGA-8 meeting is of particular importance and relevance as we are about to have the second GMS Strategic Framework endorsed by the summit very soon. Once endorsed, the Framework will become an important instrument for designing consistent

concrete activities to be implemented to address various common challenges and issues that are facing us all. Distinguished Delegates, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, We all understand that agriculture have always played a very important role in improving livelihoods of our farmers and our respective economies, and more importantly in securing the standing of the GMS countries as the main food-suppliers contributing to ensuring food security both in the region and the world as a whole. In short, I am of the view that agriculture is one of the key factors that would contribute to the realization of the GMS vision that is of more integrated, prosperous, and equitable. Despite wide recognition of the vital role of agriculture in the national economies and peoples well-beings, we all also know that we have not been able to expedite the agricultural development to meet our expected pace . All I wish to emphasize is that there remains much more to be done in terms of software and hardware development for the agriculture sector that is, like other sectors, also influenced by fast-changing socio-economic development and unprecedented environmental conditions. In this regard, there has been an expressed need for further concerted actions to be taken to intensify agricultural development to meet the growing needs for food supply while at the same times adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change. These needs cannot be realized unless investments are mobilized and focused. Distinguished Delegates, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, With regards to economic corridor development, many achievements have already been made. And, it is the very right time that we altogether must take advantage of these achievements by trying to identify and take stock of proven experiences and lessons learned which we can capitalize on for the development of agriculture for increased farming households income and improved food security for all the people. Another important point that is worth mentioning is energy for food security and trade for food security which must be pursued in a fashion that would ensure sustainability and better living standards of the people. We should embark on smart measures when developing energy. Thats why we must avoid developing energy by using food crops and food crop lands for development of other purposes rather than agriculture. It is a big mistake if we consider developing bioenergy to play the role of fossil fuel at the expense of food security. It will lead to food price crisis and our goal to ensure food security will never be achieved. Trade is considered as the food distribution mechanism which also plays important role in ensuring food access, thus food security. Therefore, trade facilitation and quality of agriculture products must be taken into account. ADB and some donors have supported GMS countries on these matters. The afore-mentioned developments highlight the need for a strong cooperation among the GMS countries so that individual countries can enjoy the full benefits of the new agriculture. The critical importance is the reforms in the provision of supporting services in agriculture in the areas of regulation, research and development, and extension. The harmonization of agriculture regulatory systems especially with regard to product standards, inspection, and quarantine

services must be more fully addressed, and operated by well-qualified professionals with access to modern analytical laboratories and facilities. What we want to see is an accelerated flow of appropriate technologies from other GMS countries, for the sake of benefit for our farmers to make a quantum leap in their productivity and income. Along this line, Cambodia wants to see strong cooperation in agricultural science and technology as one of the building blocks of GMS cooperation in agriculture. The increase in productivity has to be accompanied by linking Cambodian farmers, specially the poor, to sub regional and regional markets. Such linkage is critical to enable our farmers and those in other GMS countries to capture the benefits of these markets. These linkages will allow them to move away from traditional commodities to non-traditional ones with high value addition, and participate in niche markets. Distinguished Delegates, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, You may be aware that the GMS countries have demonstrated their comparative advantage through expanded trade; gaining a sizeable share of global markets for key food and agricultural products. Therefore, by acting collectively to improve the effectiveness of agricultural production inputs, control trans-boundary pests and animal diseases, and to conserve shared natural resources; healthy agro-ecosystems can be restored, maintained, and enhanced. Likewise, food safety is critical elements to our vision and plans. Along with the other members of the GMS, our hope is that agriculture in the sub-region begins to give more attention to food safety. We need to harmonize standards to allow better flow of agricultural products. Currently the opening up of cross-border trade, the construction and completion of transport corridors in the GMS, and the unilateral liberalization among the GMS countries have stimulated cross-border trade along adjacent communities and contiguous areas and even beyond. New institutional arrangements such as contract farming and extended-cooperatives (in the sense of engaging in contract farming) needed to be made further to provide additional support in the link to eco-production. However, climate change in our region is increasing risks to agriculture sector due to floods, drought, sea level rising, new diseases and pests; and will disrupt trade, transport, and distribution of inputs and outputs. While we are gathering here, some GMS countries are hit by flood rampage. This years flood is regarded as the most severe catastrophe the Southeast Asian Region has ever witnessed in decades. In all, more than 700 lives have been claimed while some eight millions were affected in flood, stricken Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Philippine and Vietnam. These factors have adversely impacted on our efforts and achievements made so far in agricultural sector. As a consequence, many challenges are facing in order to ensure the food security, the economic and social development and livelihood of our people. Distinguished Delegates, Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen, Looking at our agenda of WGA-8 meeting, much work is waiting for us to discuss and to provide guidance for implementation. I hope with your wisdom we can conclude our meeting successfully with fruitful results. I firmly hope that the WGA-8 meeting will be successful in

accordance with its endeavor as planned. Also, it is expected that the cooperation in GMS countries will achieve its objectives with an assured future. Once Again, on behalf of the GMS member country and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia, I would like to take this special occasion to express sincere thanks to Asian Development Bank (ADB), who has assisted with all possible mind and budget to organize the Eighth Meeting of Working Group on Agriculture in the wonderful land of Siem Reap. Finally, I wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, and international guests, for a joyful stay and good memories, and receiving a success in your works.

Thank You