AARNET: Origins, Vision & Mission

VISION: To be the premier platform for spearheading vegetable research and development and information exchange in ASEAN

MISSION: To coordinate and facilitate development and implementation of R&D projects on vegetables in ASEAN member countries, in collaboration with AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center and its regional office in East and Southeast Asia, and other organizations, as well as facilitate information exchange, technology transfer and training on vegetable production related fields.

NEWS

AARNET Expert Consultation

Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies for Vegetables in Southeast Asia
26 March 2015

Ensuring safe and nutritious food is available, accessible and affordable year round is one of the most pressing concerns facing the ASEAN region. Risks are exacerbated by both gradual and drastic changes in climate change. A report from the Asian Development Bank (2009) warned that Southeast Asian countries were particularly vulnerable to losses in food security due to observed and predicted climate changes combined with rapidly
growing populations.

The AVRDC- ASEAN Regional Network for Vegetable Research and Development (AARNET) tackled some of these prominent issues at an expert consultation on “Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Vegetables in Southeast Asia”  on 26 March 2015, at Pakse City, Champasak Provice, Lao PDR. This consultation succeeded the 10th AARNET Steering Committee meeting, which was held on 24-25 March .

More than 30 delegates were welcomed by Bounthong Bouhom, Director General of the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, who expressed his appreciation to AARNET for selecting Lao PDR as the venue to discuss the critical climatic challenges threatening sustainable vegetable value chains in the region.

Fen Beed, Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia for AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center, set the scene by highlighting the structure and objectives of the
workshop; to share and develop practical strategies to address climate change related issues. Background presentations included a keynote address from Jacqueline d’Arros Hughes, AVRDC’s Deputy Director General for Research “On minimizing climatic change in vegetable production” who emphasized the need for the efficient utilization of resources such as land, water, nutrients and genetic resources to ensure more productive and resilient vegetable production.

Grisana Linwattana, Senior Agriculture Scientist of Horticulture Research Institute of the Department of Agriculture, Thailand presented the “Lessons learned by Thailand in research and development for vegetable based mitigation and adaptation to climate change”.  Andreas Ebert, AVRDC Genebank Manager; Narinder Dhillon, global cucurbit breeder; and Sopana Yule, Entomologist and Biological Control Specialist presented AVRDC research findings on how germplasm, breeding and production practices, respectively, can be used to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

AARNET members from 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) shared their respective countries’ policy frameworks, research and development programs and strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change and their relevance to vegetable value chains. Working groups were then established to prioritize risks and opportunities to:

  1. mitigate gradual climate changes;
  2. adapt to gradual climate changes;
  3. mitigate drastic climate changes; and
  4. adapt to drastic climate changes.

Following plenary presentations and questions and answer sessions the AARNET Steering Committee group then identified common challenges and approaches pertinent to all ASEAN countries.

After an animated discussion and voting process, capacity building on how to harness the diversity of vegetable genetic resources was identified as the collective critical priority.  This training will encapsulate germplasm collection, characterization, conservation, and screening for resistance to abiotic and biotic stresses, as well as the sharing of standard protocols for wider use and adoption by ASEAN countries.

Viengxai Siphaphone, Director of Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Office, Champasak province, officially closed the expert consultation meeting and concluded “that this has been a truly unique meeting as the quality of information provided was illuminating and the participatory discussions frank and productive and that it was a privilege for Lao PDR to host this AARNET meeting, and welcomed participants to return”.