“Food systems are integral in achieving food security, safeguarding public health, and promoting economic growth. This is why we must continue to work together in translating policy into action to enhance sustainable actions for a stronger agriculture sector in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).”
This was the statement of Deputy Permanent Secretary and National Convener of Food Systems Mr. Rapibhat Chandarasrivongs from Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) at the Food System Dialogue hosted by Mekong Institute (MI) and MOAC on June 17, 2021.
In his statement, Deputy Permanent Secretary Rapibhat also underscored the importance of setting up a joint management of aquatic resources and ecosystems along the Mekong River, as well as a proactive risk management mechanism to monitor and mitigate pest and disease outbreaks, particularly zoonotic diseases in the region. He also called for efforts to promote precision farming and unique plant-based food to boost the competitive advantage of Northeastern Thailand products and services in regional markets.
Given the range of diverse food system topics for discussion, the meeting brought together high-level representatives from MOAC, as well as leading food and agriculture stakeholders from Northeastern Thailand, who each identified sector priorities in strengthening food production, processing, distribution, and waste management to better address increasing market demands and changing consumption patterns against rapid population growth and available resources.
Mr. Suriyan Vichitlekarn, MI Executive Director, said that the meeting was also an opportunity to mobilize public-private investments to sustain food systems transformation for the enhancement of facilities, services, and infrastructure that can solidify Northeastern Thailand’s position as a gateway to the GMS.
“Capacity building initiatives on food safety and food quality, as well as dialogues can help ensure that all actors in the food supply and value chains understand and can contribute to the standardization and compliance of food safety regulations and policies,” he said, emphasizing that these investments will help broaden agri small- and medium-sized enterprises’ access to global markets, which will boost revenue and employment.
Dr. Vanida Khumnirdpetch from the Bureau of Foreign Agricultural Affairs, MOAC; Mr. Montri Deemanop from the Office of the National Economic and Social Development in the Northeast; and Mr. Chagat Chantajirawatnee from the Regional Office of Agricultural Economics 4 also presented current food and agriculture opportunities and challenges in Northeastern Thailand.
Findings from the activity will be consolidated into a report in preparation for the Global Food Systems Summit in August 2021, where Thailand representatives will present the progress of the country’s food systems. The officials will also detail recommendations that can advance climate, development finance, health, and other priorities to support the realization of Sustainable Development Goals.