Hanoi, Vietnam - As the Responsible Business Forum on Food & Agriculture commenced today in Hanoi, Vietnam, CropLife Asia Executive Director Dr. Siang Hee Tan took the opportunity to highlight the need for crop protection regulatory harmonization in ASEAN as a means to elevate all aspects of agriculture across the region. The two-day Forum commenced today at the Melia Hotel in Hanoi, bringing together more than 350 representatives from multiple sectors of the food and agriculture industries.
Dr. Tan also commended the conference's host country of Vietnam in its agricultural sustainability advancements as the nation approaches its 10-year regulatory anniversary with respect to plant biotechnology.
"Sustainable agriculture in ASEAN is not a preference or a hope, it's a necessity and shared responsibility," said Tan. "With the world changing around us, the demands we put on agriculture here in our region and around the world are changing as well. As we ask our farmers to feed more people, with less impact to the environment and fewer resources, equipping them with the latest tools and technology is essential.
"In ASEAN, it's important to take stock of the progress that's been made in advancing sustainable agriculture given its role in ensuring food security. With Vietnam poised to recognize a decade of regulatory work in support of the nation's developments in plant biotechnology, it represents a critically important and commendable step for the country and region.
"An opportunity for ASEAN to take a collective leap forward in agriculture sustainability exists in the area of crop protection regulatory harmonization," added Tan. "Bringing a harmonized regulatory framework to crop protection technology would deliver a slew of top-tier benefits to ASEAN agriculture, and the plant science industry for our region is advocating for its inclusion with AEC (ASEAN Economic Community) 2015. The stakes are simply too high to not take this critical step forward."
Agriculture is woven into the fabric of the cultures, traditions, and societies of the nations of Southeast Asia; and ASEAN is often recognized as the world's most productive food basket. However, among the top eight agro-producing countries of ASEAN, agriculture accounts for around 20% of national GDP on average, while the labor force working within the industry stands at a staggering 46% average. The disparity between the two figures highlights the opportunity that exists within the ASEAN agricultural sector to realize greater efficiency and robustness.
As Dr. Tan pointed out during today's session, "The difference between those two numbers tells a story of opportunity. And unfortunately, by not seizing that opportunity fully, it keeps our region farther from the short term sustainability we're discussing today as well as food security for the future."
With AEC 2015 at hand, the ASEAN crop protection community is advocating the inclusion of regulatory harmonization for the industry as a means to support the region's countries in their pursuit of unique national agendas and agricultural goals. This important step will have a positive impact in this respect by:
- Ensuring ASEAN farmers have greater access to the latest in crop protection technology and innovations;
- Easing the burden for the Governments of ASEAN by enabling shared regulatory capacity, knowledge, and data among ASEAN members states - leading to minimized costs, redundancy, and waste;
- Helping fuel the ASEAN economic engine of agriculture by reducing barriers to trade and investment while protecting farmers from poor quality, illegal, and/or counterfeit chemicals which can reduce yield and harm the environment; and
- Positioning ASEAN member states to better meet the food security challenges of the next decade and beyond through the benefits of crop protection advancements.
The opening session of the Responsible Business Forum on Food & Agriculture began today, Tuesday, 23 June, at 9am. The Forum is scheduled to conclude on the afternoon of Wednesday, 24 June.
 Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook.
About CropLife Asia
CropLife Asia is a non-profit society and the regional organization of CropLife International, the voice of the global plant science industry. We advocate a safe, secure food supply, and our vision is food security enabled by innovative agriculture. CropLife Asia supports the work of 15 member associations across the continent and is led by ten member companies at the forefront of crop protection, seeds and/or biotechnology research and development. For more information, visit us at www.croplifeasia.org.
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