Two projects aimed at promoting regional collaboration to improve rice production practices and technologies in the Lancang-Mekong region were launched on January 23, 2020 in Bangkok, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) and Mekong Institute (MI).
Supported by the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) Special Fund, this new partnership brings forth strengthened cooperation among the six LMC countries, including Cambodia, PR China, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, to establish a regional mechanism to exchange knowledge and experiences to further promote sustainable agricultural practices and boost rice trade in the region.
Mr. Sudsakorn Pattarakulnit, Director General of Rice Department, signed the MOU on behalf of the MOAC, while Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, MI Executive Director, represented the implementing agency of the two projects. Ms. Yu Yang, First Secretary of Agriculture – Economic and Commercial Counsellor’s Office of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the Kingdom of Thailand, also graced the signing event.
During the event, Dr. Apichart Pongsrihadulchai, advisor to MOAC’s Rice Department, spoke about the opportunities and challenges faced by the LMC countries as one of the world’s most rice productive regions. Aside from being increasingly vulnerable to the impact of climate change, the region also faces various sociopolitical and economic barriers. For Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of MI’s Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department, this is why the two projects are timely and relevant as they promote mutual exchange of expertise among LMC countries.
In his congratulatory remarks, Mr. Li Hong, Permanent Representative of China to UNESCAP and MI Steering Committee member, attested to the institute’s strides on agricultural cooperation and regional development. “I am pleased that the projects under the LMC shares the priority of sustainable agriculture, an area in which MI has long been working on,” he said. Similarly, Dr. Leelawath echoed the commitment to scaling-up impact in the agriculture sector within and beyond the region.
The two new projects that will be implemented by MI, with the support of MOAC’s Rice Department, focus on developing and promoting common rice production standards and establishing a center to monitor and forecast rice pest and natural disasters due to climate change. Both initiatives are funded under the LMC Special Fund as part of the LMC Framework established in 2016 to contribute in strengthening the economic and social development of the region.