On the 15th and 16th of September 2016, the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation (VPDF) organized together with the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung Southeast Asia (RLS SEA) a workshop on “Sustainable Agricultural Development in the Context of ASEAN Integration”. The workshop was attended by about 100 participants from various ASEAN countries, including important delegates from ASEAN embassies, members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Vietnam as well as the Deputy Minister and other important officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam. A special guest was the Former Vice President of Vietnam, Madame Nguyen Thi Binh.
During the workshop, the experts from the ASEAN countries discussed the current situation of the agriculture in the area of ASEAN in general and in Vietnam in particular. It is a fact that the agricultural issues in the region are similar, including: limited financing, limited investments, limited tax exemptions, limited research and development activities, over-use of chemical products as fertilizers or pesticides as well as the increasing influence of climate change.
The experts also shared their experiences in ensuring sustainable agricultural development, protecting agricultural sovereignty and ensuring small scale farmers’ interests in the context of regional integration. Accordingly, to achieve sustainable agriculture, Vietnam has to mediate between the roles of the government, the farmers, the scientists, the enterprises and the costumers. Moreover, Vietnam has to be active in promoting natural agriculture: retain traditional values, advocate livelihood and promote traditional farming that is based on the communities’ needs and not on profit-making to ensure food sovereignty.
The workshop proposed to all ASEAN governments to comprehensively complete their systems of agricultural policies, especially those on land using and agricultural-scientific investment, whilst reflecting the situation of a deeply integrated ASEAN community. The workshop also emphasized the importance of NGOs in Vietnam in their function of acting as a coordinator between the government and the enterprises in order to promote the sustainability and competiveness of the Vietnamese agriculture by providing funds, knowledge and expertise.