AFA pushes rural development agenda in ASEAN

Civil society organizations concerned with rural development have been engaging ASEAN in order to pursue agriculture, fisheries and people-centered development, which promotes the well-being of the rural poor and marginalized sectors, especially farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples.

In the process, they also aim to develop institutionalized mechanisms for the regular consultation and participation of farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, rural women, and rural development NGOs on matters affecting these sectors.

AFA had another opportunity to push forward this agenda in the recently concluded ASEAN Special Seniors’ Officers’ Meeting for the 32nd ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry (SSOM-AMAF) held at Angkor Era Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia last August 8-9, 2011.

AsiaDHRRA, as an accredited NGO in ASEAN, has successfully sought an audience with the participants, in behalf of the Rural Development Working Group (RDWG), of which AFA is a part of. The ASEAN gave a 10-minute slot for AsiaDHRRA/RDWG to make a presentation.

Since AFA has a regional trade agenda with ASEAN and wants the regional body to recognize an ASEAN Farmers’ Council and to develop a regional agriculture policy that will benefit small scale women and men farmers, it volunteered to join the AsiaDHRRA/RDWG delegation.

AFA was the only RDWG member who could send a delegation.

The AFA delegation was composed of Oun Sophal (President, FNN), Sam Kanya (ViceCchair, Women’s Network in FNN), Kong Sokchhoin (Project Coordinator, FNN) and Esther Penunia (AFA Secretary General).

The delegation asked for a dialogue with SSSOM-AMAF during their meeting in October where it can present the results of its researches on private public partnerships and food price volatility. It also asked for a stronger involvement in the planning and organizing of the next ASEAN Farmers’ Week whose results can be fed back to the subsequent AMAF meeting.

The AFA delegation was also able to meet the representatives from the Philippines and Cambodia and some members of the delegation of Brunei, Laos and Thailand. Those who were at the July food security conference of ASEAN and USAID recognized Sophal as one of the speakers during the plenary session.

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