AFOSP – The Road to Better Engage Farmer Organisations in ASEAN

The agriculture sector is a common denominator for the ASEAN Member States. In some countries, agriculture sector is the main livelihood for its citizens. Moreover, the agriculture sector is the economy backbone and the main contributor for countries’ foreign exchange such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, and Malaysia.

Since its establishment, the ASEAN Foundation has been committed to support the agriculture sector as a part of its mandate to address socio-economic disparities and alleviate poverty, as well as to develop human resources and capacity building. Sustaining this commitment, the Foundation is participating in the ASEAN Farmers’ Organisations Support Programme (AFOSP). AFOSP is a European Union (EU) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) grant for a multi-stakeholder project which aims to improve the livelihoods and food security situation of smallholder farmers and rural producers in ASEAN countries. The role of the ASEAN Foundation in AFOSP focuses on promoting policy dialogues and interactions between farmers and rural organisations and ASEAN institutions. Other partners in AFOSP include the Asian Famers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and La Via Campesina (LVC).

The overall mandate of AF is to actualise and energise the ASEAN Blueprint especially the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) blueprint. Specifically, the key role of AF is to bridge the coordination between the relevant sectoral ASEAN bodies in support of AFOSP, such as those under the ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) and ASEAN Ministers Meeting on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (AMRDPE); and to facilitate the engagement and participation of the ASEAN farmers in the regional policy-making processes.

The ASEAN Foundation under AFOSP component officially kicked off on 15 October 2015. During that quarter, the main activities were to set up the project team, to develop the work plan, budget and communication plans for the period. Its activities in 2016 concentrated on developing public awareness materials on ASEAN 101 and the ASEAN Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), networking and consultation with the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Centre for the Development of Agriculture Cooperatives (ACEDAC) and other organisations, organising exchange visits and participation in the relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies to contribute to the implementation of relevant ASEAN Work Plans supporting the farmer organisations.