Myanmar economist says South East Asia needs agricultural vision

  • 19 November 2014, Wednesday

12 Nov 2014

MANILA, Nov. 11 — The Southeast Asian region needs a “new agricultural vision” that will take into account the effects of climate change on food production and the effects of the farming sector on the environment.

This is the view of Tin Htut Oo, chairman of the National Economic and Science Advisory Council (NESAC) of Myanmar, who will be one of the speakers in the 2nd International Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development in Southeast Asia (ARD2014) to be held in Manila on November 12 and 13 this year.

The ARD Conference is spearheaded by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

NESAC is Myanmar's counterpart of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) of the Philippines.

Tin said that the agriculture sector of Southeast Asia is very vulnerable to climate change, and there is a need to shift away from the “traditional growth pattern” or “business as usual” approach.

“The challenge for Southeast Asian countries is to pursue economic development without creating additional burdens on ecosystems, thus conserving biodiversity and enhancing the welfare of both urban and rural populations,” he said.

To create the new agricultural vision for Southeast Asia, which includes the Philippines, Tin said there is a need to invest in and address the following key concepts: soil characterization, plant nutrient management, crop varietal development with the application of biotechnology, water management, transfer of knowledge and technology, post-harvest management, value addition, agricultural mechanization, and supply chain development.

The new agricultural vision, according to Tin, should achieve the following objectives: provide safer and adequate food and nutritional requirements of the population; provide sufficient income for farmers and to sustain a comfortable standard of living; and protect ecosystems, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.

“On the other hand, with increasing income growth, growing middle class, rapid urbanization, changes and lifestyles and dietary patterns, as well as rapid regional integration, globalization and trade liberalization, several drivers of change are emerging that generate opportunities and challenges for Southeast Asia agriculture sector,” he added.

Tin will be one of the speakers in ARD2014, where he will discuss the subject “Toward Sustainability and Resilience in Asean Agriculture.”

SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said ARD2014 will gather 400 experts from the academe and research institutions, government executives and policymakers, farmer-leaders and practicing farmers, private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders.

Former NEDA Director General and currently Economics Professor Dr. Cielito F. Habito will be among the speakers.

The theme of ARD2014 is “Strengthening Resilience, Equity, and Integration in ASEAN Food and Agriculture Systems.”

ARD2014 is supported by Asia Pacific Adaptation Network (APAN); German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Food Security Center (FSC) of the University of Hohenheim; Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA); Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD); Syngenta Asia Pacific Pte Ltd; Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR); and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

“The agriculture and rural economies in the Southeast Asian region will play a pivotal role in the development of the economies in the region, and the ARD Conference will help identify the strategies and concepts on how to propel farm and rural growth in the region in the next few years,” Dr. Saguiguit said. (PNA)