A series of new capacity building initiatives to help farmers in developing areas to protect plants and livestock against major pests and diseases will be undertaken around the Asia-Pacific in the coming months. The new measures are also expected to reduce costs to business and open up new export opportunities for regional farmers.
The new initiatives were agreed by representatives of Member Economies at the Meeting of theĀ APEC Agricultural Technical Cooperation Working Group (ATCWG) in Daejeon, Korea.
ATCWG Chair and Director of the Korea Rural Economic Institute, Dr. Se-Ik Oh, said the initiatives will help local farmers by addressing emerging major threats to Asia-Pacific agricultural production.
"Improving the capacity of farmers to control pests and diseases expands agricultural productivity and ultimately improves rural incomes.
"These new measures will ensure governments are able to provide greater technical support needed by farmers at a local level."
Mr Gary Greene, Head of the United States Delegation, welcomed the new initiatives that he hopes will aid the expansion of all phases of agricultural development in APEC Member Economies.
"Agricultural trade within the APEC region accounts for an essential part of the health of the global economy," Mr. Greene said.
"I hope these new APEC initiatives will strengthen agriculture in the Asia-Pacific by increasing skills and opening new markets for farmers right around the region."
Initiatives that have been planned include:
  • A workshop on adopting international standards for plant and animal health to be held in the United States in October
  • An APEC Forum on Alien Invasive Species to be held in Beijing in September
  • A workshop on bio-security planning and surveillance for plant pests in Malaysia in August
  • Technical manuals on plant pests and diseases to assist identify and manage exotic pests
  • New funding to build SPS capacity in the region
The ATCWG Meeting in Daejeon also endorsed several steps to reduce business transaction costs. These include measures to improve market structures and expand the use of electronic health and quarantine certificates.
A further capacity building initiative to facilitate trade is assistance to enable economies to comply with the new international standard ISPM 15 on the fumigation of timber products. This Australian Accreditation Scheme for fumigators and inspectors allows for shipments containing timber products, whether these are the products being shipped or the wooden boxes that they are often carried in, to be given fast track quarantine clearance at destination ports if they meet the set fumigation standards.
Chile's representative at the meeting, Mr Jaime Alliende, expects the new ATCWG initiatives will also help economies to maximize benefits to the agricultural sector from Free Trade Agreements.
"It is very clear that FTAs are making a useful contribution to providing real market opportunities for our farmers," Mr Alliende said.
The ATCWG Meeting was held from June 14 to 17. The next ATCWG meeting will take place in June 2006 in Viet Nam. Additional details on the ATCWG are available at: www.atcwg2005.com