This year, APAARI signed a Consortium Agreement for the project on Agroecology and Safe Food System Transitions (ASSET) in Southeast Asia. The five-year project is funded by the European Commission, French Development Agency (AFD), and Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD). Twenty-seven organizations from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, as well as regional partners such as APAARI are partners in the project.
Shifting cultivation has largely disappeared due to increased population pressure and adverse government policies. The intensification of conventional agriculture is leading to a simplification of agricultural landscapes, land degradation, and biodiversity depletion, and increased health risks for farmers and consumers. Agroecological practices have developed in response to managing soil fertility and soil health while maintaining productivity. The project will explore the transition to systems that address critical issues, such as soil fertility and biodiversity depletion, water scarcity, or increasing biotic constraints to crop and livestock productions.
An official launching workshop of ASSET took place from 10-12 November 2020. With the prevailing pandemic situations, the workshop was conducted in a hybrid mode, with participants meeting in-person in Laos and Vietnam, and other international partners joining virtually. As a key partner of the project, APAARI hosted the three-day inception meeting through the zoom virtual platform. Almost 160 participants registered for the event.
Various sub-components of the project activities were presented along with the guidance on methodology and approaches, activities planned, and partners involved. Lucie Reynaud, Regional Project Coordinator, stressed that: “In terms of capacity building, we will also start the project with training needs assessments that will target ASSET partners.”
World Café with five groups (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Vietnam, and cross-cutting) was conducted with participation of the different country partners to discuss the expected deliverables. Dao The Anh, Vice-President of the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VAAS), a partner of the project pointed out that: “When farmers supply agroecological products, they need a market. This, therefore implies not only providing techniques but also acting at every stage of the value chain, right up to consumer recognition of the nutritional value of these products”.
APAARI’s key role will be in coordination of a Sub-component 1.3 on capacity development, communication, and visibility actions, together with the Institute of Technology Cambodia (ITC). The overall project communication strategy will be prepared in consultation with all the partners. An initial assessment will find the information related to different communication and knowledge needs, looking at existing scenario and gaps.
The meeting was the first step towards implementation of ASSET and provided opportunities for clarification of the partners’ roles, expectations from the project, and way forward. APAARI looks forward to working with all ASSET partners in the next implementation phase.