Mekong Institute served as co-organizer of the recently-concluded 4th AFSA International Conference on Food Safety and Food Security (AFSA 2018), hosted by the Asia Food Safety and Security Association together with the Royal University of Agriculture-Cambodia (RUA). The conference, held on August 10-12, 2018 at Siem Reap, Cambodia, featured 13 keynote presentations on the challenges, opportunities and initiatives on food safety and security as well as over 150 oral and poster paper presentations from scientists, researchers and development experts on various issues on food safety and security across the globe.
His Excellency Mr. Veng Sakhon, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries welcomed the 265 participants in attendance. He stressed that food safety and food security are among the main priorities of the Cambodian government, and the international conference is a positive step to contributing to meeting the challenge of providing the growing population with a sustainable and secure supply of safe, nutritious and affordable high-quality food using less inputs and in the face of other challenges such as declining resources and climate change.
Likewise at the Inaugural Program, MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath articulated MI’s work in food safety and security, emphasizing the necessity of creating networks and partnerships through such events as AFSA 2018 to strengthen and promote safe food consciousness in the region.
At the conference, institutions and individuals were also recognized for their distinctive work and contributions in food safety and food security. MI was awarded the Meritorious Contribution to Promoting Food Safety and Food Security in Asia while Dr. Antonio Acedo, Senior Program Specialist at MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization (ADC) Department, was awarded Outstanding Innovator and Administrator for Global Food Security and Food Safety, and the Meritorious Service to AFSA as one of the convenors of the conference. ADC Director Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia chaired the Plenary Session on Food Safety/Security Challenges and Opportunities.
On August 10, MI and RUA likewise signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalizing the two institutions’ cooperation and partnership in the areas of human resource development (HRD), capacity building, and research and development (R&D). MI Executive Director Dr. Watcharas Leelawath and RUA Rector Prof. Dr. Ngo Buntham signed the agreement, and were witnessed by RUA Director of International Affairs Dr. Pinn Thira and MI ADC Senior Program Specialist Dr. Antonio Acedo.
The five-year cooperation between MI and RUA promises further collaboration in HRD programs such as staff exchanges, trainings and internships; capacity and institutional building programs; and development and implementation of R&D projects including scaling up of technologies and innovations.