The Lancang/Mekong river originates from the Tibetan plateau in China and ends at the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. The Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) mechanism launched in 2016, signifies the multilateral cooperation between riparian states along the 4,350 km river comprising Cambodia, PR China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.
Agriculture is one of the key areas in this cooperation through the Lancang-Mekong Agricultural Working Group established in 2017, with the main objective of enhancing collaboration to improve the agricultural sector of member countries. The agricultural working group is based at the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC), Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs (MARA), PR China.
A regional workshop of Lancang-Mekong Cooperation on Quality and Safety of Agri-food Production was organised by the LM Agriculture Cooperation, FECC, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN Asia Pacific Region on 26 April 2021. The workshop was also held in conjunction with FAO UN’s Year of Fruit and Vegetables 2021.
The opening remarks were delivered by Mr. Li Hongtao, DDG, FECC, MARA, PR China, Mr. Carlos Watson, FAO representative in China and Dr. Vanida Khumnirdpetch, Director of Bureau of Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thailand.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- Advocate the importance of safe production of fruits and vegetables.
- Introduce best practices of fruits and vegetables supply chain management, inclusive value chain, reducing loss and waste, innovative approaches in ensuring quality and sustainable agricultural development.
- Explore opportunities for greater coordination towards harmonizing quality control systems promoting investment and trade cooperation among Lancang-Mekong countries.
Seventy workshop participants from both the public and private sector from Cambodia, PR China, Laos PDR, Thailand, Vietnam attended the workshop which was held live and online.
International Tropical Fruits Network’s (TFNet) advisor, Yacob Ahmad was invited to deliver a presentation on ‘Tropical fruit value chain enhancements and market access – a regional perspective’ along with 15 other presenters from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), PR China, Universities, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, FAO HQ Rome, Academy of Agricultural Sciences PR China, Asian Development Bank, Ministry of Agriculture Lao PDR, Department of Agriculture Cambodia, Department of Agriculture Extension Thailand and the private sector from PR China. Yacob emphasized the need to improve tropical fruit value chains efficiencies using best practices and affordable innovations. He also pointed out the importance of enabling environments such as infrastructure, credit facilities, capacity building, targeted research and development and establishing partnerships with big companies and exporters to enhance existing value chains. Yacob also reiterated that understanding consumers’ preferences for safe, good quality and healthy fruit or other agricultural produce is key to sustainable market access.
The workshop managed to impart useful information on the importance of food safety, quality and certification, branding and market access, food losses and wastes, value chain enhancements, holistic approaches in improving the production and distribution ecosystem of fruit and vegetables, in providing health benefits and food security as stated in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
The workshop concluded with a wrap up session by Mr. Takayuki Hagiwara, Regional Programme Leader, FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and Mr. Li Hongtao, DDG, FECC, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, PR China.