The ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) have reached agreements on various documents, encompassing strategic guidance, technical matters and joint communication, reaffirming their commitment to cooperation in matters of food security, agriculture and forestry.

This development was communicated through an official statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on an October 4 social media post.

This consensus emerged from the 45th AMAF meeting held on October 4 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Minister of Agriculture Dith Tina was in attendance at this event, alongside ASEAN secretary-general Kao Kim Hourn, who participated in the opening ceremony.

AMAF convenes annually to deliberate on the progress and prospects of their collaborative efforts. The overarching goals include achieving food security, enhancing market access and bolstering agricultural productivity and resilience.

These objectives can be effectively realised through sustainable regional cooperation, including partnerships with both public and private entities, as highlighted by the ASEAN Secretariat.

The statement from the ministry underscored that AMAF recognises the importance of sustainable agriculture, food security and the responsible stewardship of forests.

“They also raised the necessity to enhance collaboration in addressing challenges and seizing opportunities,” the ministry stated.

According to the ministry, the joint statement primarily addresses ASEAN cooperation in sustainable development related to agriculture, forestry, nutrition, food safety and product quality.

Additionally, it highlights efforts to establish dialogue partnerships with international NGOs.

In a separate announcement, the ministry reported Tina’s participation in the AMAF-Japan meeting, during which discussions took place regarding Japan’s Midori Cooperation Plan. This plan, proposed by Japan, aims to strengthen collaboration with ASEAN in enhancing agriculture and food systems, ultimately contributing to regional food security.

“Following afternoon discussions, the meeting reached a consensus to release a joint statement on the AMAF-Japan,” stated the ministry.

Kin Phea, director of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, emphasised the necessity for ASEAN to foster cooperation in agriculture, considering the bloc’s significant role as a major exporter of agricultural products.

He urged member states to actively share their experiences and technical expertise, aiming to enhance the resilience of agriculture production against the backdrop of climate change.

“Addressing agricultural challenges equates to addressing the broader concerns of food security and environmental sustainability,” he said.

On a related note, Heng Kimhong, programme manager for research and advocacy at the Cambodian Youth Network, underscored the paramount importance of forestry issues within the ASEAN agenda.