The first APAARI Executive Committee Meeting for 2020 was held on 8-10 July 2020 through the online Bluejeans cloud application. It was successfully delivered under the Chairmanship of Dr. Peter Horne, General Manager, Country Programs, Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Australia. Thirty-one participants attended the three-day online meeting, including the EC members, special invitees, and staff of the APAARI Secretariat.
The meeting discussed and reported on the progress of APAARI activities from 1 October 2019 to 31 May 2020; revised work plan for 2020, which included the execution of Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Learning (MERL); status of secured, developed and submitted projects; APAARI membership and fee payment status, management standards, administrative matters, audit and finance reports and other matters raised by the EC members. The meeting also discussed the implications of COVID-19, but also touched upon the issue of the locust swarm, having devastating effects on agriculture and rural development.
Key areas presented and discussed
Dr Ravi Khetarpal, Executive Secretary (ES), APAARI welcomed all the participants. Dr Peter Horne, Chair then set the tone of the meeting by his opening remarks, highlighting the achievements and issues of key importance to APAARI.
Ms Martina Spisiakova, Knowledge Management Coordinator, APAARI, moderated the online meeting. Dr. Saliltorn “June” Thongmeensuk, Legal Consultant, APAARI, updated the EC members about the efforts to obtain legal status for APAARI in Thailand. Dr. Ravi Khetarpal, Executive Secretary, APAARI, presented the action taken
report based on the recommendations and suggestions addressed at the last ECM of 7 November 2019. The main areas of presentations and discussion included:
(i) The medium-term strategy of Center of Excellence (COE) on Value Chains
(ii) Sub-regional APAARI office in the Pacific
(iii) Deep dive into the outcomes of the ASTI Project and role of APAARI
(iv) Deep dive into MERL Plan and summary of learnings
(v) Process and rationale for the development of new projects
(vi) Outcomes of the Stakeholder Survey
The presentations of progress made by APAARI during 1 October 2019 – 31 May 2020 focused on major activities delivered through APAARI programmes and projects, including Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology and Bioresources (APCoAB), Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI), Agroecology and Safe food System Transitions (ASSET), Asia Pesticide Residue Mitigation through the Promotion of Biopesticides and Enhancement of Trade Opportunities (APRMP), and Knowledge Management (KM). Other areas presented included scoping for new projects, latest publications, membership drive, collaboration and partnership, participation in various meetings, administrative and financial matters, as well as the development of Management Standards.
Appreciation of the EC Members
The Members appreciated the progress that APAARI made during the last 9 months, despite the larger part of the work being delivered from remote locations. The sub-regional office in the Pacific was highlighted as very important for ensuring regular communication and outreach with Pacific stakeholders. The results of ASTI were also found impressive, based on a strong partnership among ACIAR, APAARI, and IFPRI.
The Council of Agriculture (COA), Taiwan, particularly appreciated the efforts made through the APCoAB programme, and assured its support and development of stronger connections and cooperation with APAARI.
The Members acknowledged APAARI as having the capabilities to manage knowledge and learning across the region, which is a real and core strength of APAARI.
Some key areas that require further strengthening were highlighted as well. To better contribute to agricultural development through productivity increases, APAARI should focus on capacity development and partnerships to build expertise, share experience, and capacities. The strategic value of the COE on Value Chains needs to be further developed to provide a clear rationale and directions for the Center’s development.
The EC thanked the special invitees for their insightful presentations. The EC noted a strong desire of partners to engage functionally with APAARI about key developments, lessons, technologies, and ideas that can potentially influence policy.
It was finally highlighted that increasingly complex challenges in agri-food research and innovation systems (AFRIS) require regional action and trans-disciplinary collaboration. Hence, enabling this is a core role of APAARI and should be the focus of continued efforts to strengthen.