A workshop was held in Hanoi on July 16 to launch a regional project to improve cooperation in policy research, implementation and advocacy in agriculture and rural development in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
The project “Network for Agriculture and Rural Development Think-tanks for Countries in Mekong sub-region” (NARDT) is funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
The NARDT objectives are to improve cooperation through the establishment of researcher networks to share policy experience and information toward sustainable agriculture and rural development; identify regional opportunities, challenges and key issues for agriculture and rural development; implement joint policy actions including joint policy research, formulation, implementation and advocacy; and facilitate the institutionalization of relevant innovations.
According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, agriculture plays a very important role in the economic development and social stability in Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia,
Though agricultural production in the sub-region has improved in recent years, it faces many difficulties due to short resources, low labor productivity, slower growth and widening development gap between urban and rural areas, Tien said.
The countries in the sub-region have been enforcing several effective policy reforms. For instance, Cambodia is a good example of how to develop premium rice brands and value chain to enter high-end markets, while Laos is experienced in developing clean and sustainable agricultural production, he noted.
The official said via the project, Vietnam wants to foster cooperation between countries in the Mekong sub-region to share good practices in agricultural and rural development through extensive policy advisory networks of not only governmental agencies but also non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
“With the help of IFAD and the active coordination between Mekong sub-region countries, this project will help improve effectiveness of policies in the Mekong sub-region and, at the same time, strengthen partnership and promote the development of effective and responsible trade and investment and between the countries in agricultural and rural development,” he stated.
The workshop later saw the signing of a cooperation agreement to develop the NARDT network in the region and in each country between the IFAD and the founding members of the NARDT network including the IPSARD, Myanmar’s Centre for Economic and Social Development (CESD), Laos’ National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), and Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI).