Mekong Group Grows Support for Agroforestry in ASEAN

Feb 12, 2018 9:05 AM ET
Members of the Mekong Group on Agroforestry who participated in the inception workshop. Photo: RECOFTC

The Mekong Expert Group on Agroforestry has members from government and civil society committed to support the development of agroforestry in ASEAN member states.

The Mekong Expert Group on Agroforestry for Food and Nutrition Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Land Restoration held its first workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, on 25–27 January 2018.

Held at the headquarters of partner organization, RECOFTC The Center for People and Forests, the workshop drew participants from across Southeast Asia, Sweden and Africa. The members are diverse, reflecting the diverse nature of agroforestry itself. They were drawn from from government ministries of agriculture and forestry, research and development NGOs, universities and farmers’ organizations, particularly, from Cambodia, Myanmar and Viet Nam, which are the Group’s focus countries.

As well as initial introductions, agreeing on the role of the Group and the year’s work plan, the members present reviewed the zero draft of the ASEAN Guidelines on Agroforestry Development, a high-level document that sets out basic principles and recommendations for policy and implementation. The draft will be sent by the ASEAN Secretariat to related ASEAN working groups and national ministries for their input followed by further consultations throughout the region before submission for consideration by senior government officials for adoption as an official ASEAN guideline. The Group also plans to provide comments on a ‘training of trainers in agroforestry’ manual and a practical field manual, both for ASEAN, and other supporting documents as requested by the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry.

The members also discussed the development of ‘road maps’ for development of agroforestry in Cambodia—which is already set to begin a formal consultation process later this year with support from the World Agroforestry Centre and partners in the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership for Social Forestry and Climate Change program and input from the Expert Group—and Myanmar, which hopes to initiate a similar process as early as November, subject to alignment within the Government of Myanmar.

A process to map all organizations in the region who were involved in agroforestry was launched. Members also identified various strategic points at which to convene over the course of the next 12 months and increase the number of people participating in the discussion about agroforestry, such as in Viet Nam at a meeting of the Civil Society Forum linked to the ASEAN Working Group on Social Forestry, in Cambodia for an international conference on sustainable agriculture followed by consultations on the road map, and in Myanmar for initial discussions about the country’s road map for agroforestry.

The Expert Group is coordinated by the World Agroforestry Centre and is part of the Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative.

For more information, contact the Group coordinator, Robert Finlayson: