Cambodia and Myanmar call for more help to develop agroforestry
Senior representatives of the governments of Cambodia and Myanmar have called on the World Agroforestry Centre to support development of agroforestry in their countries.
At a meeting of senior forestry, environment and agriculture delegates from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the representatives of the governments of Cambodia and Myanmar formally invited ICRAF the World Agroforestry Centre to carry out research in development of agroforestry.
Ohn Lwin, director of the Forest Department, Myanmar Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, in a statement to the Tenth Annual Meeting of the ASEAN Social Forestry Network, held 14–16 June 2016 in the Philippines, declared that his government sought the opportunity to learn from ICRAF’s experience with institutional development for community forestry and agroforestry.
‘Myanmar is a newly-democratic country and there have already been many changes in the new Government’s first 100 days’, he explained. ‘The Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry has changed into the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and now includes the former Ministry of Mining. The new Government has put a strong emphasis on movements that benefit the people. The National Land-use Policy has been approved, commercial logging is set to be banned and a program has already started of planting 57 million trees across the country.
‘To strengthen our democratic institutions by connecting strongly with the people through community forestry management, we want to learn from the experience of ICRAF in developing such systems with communities and national governments. We want to develop our division so that it is effective and responsive to the people’s needs. We want to make the most of the trees we are planting for the benefit of the people’.
Ingrid Öborn, ICRAF’s regional coordinator for Southeast Asia, in response said that, ‘We would be very happy to engage with Myanmar; our mandate is across the same reach as ASEAN. We can discuss how to include this in the next phase of the ASEAN-Swiss Partnership for Social Forestry and Climate Change project and perhaps ICRAF and the Government of Myanmar can talk with development agencies about all of us achieving mutual goals through such a collaboration’.
Long Ratanakoma, deputy director of the Department of Forestry and Community Forestry at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of the Royal Government of Cambodia also formally invited ICRAF to work in the kingdom.
‘Since 1965, forest cover has reduced from 73% to just under 50%’, he said. ‘But there has been a growth in community forestry permits; we now have 499 covering around 500,000 hectares. But of these, only 50, covering 24,000 ha, actually have management plans. We want to assess the effectiveness of community forestry based on rights. And we want 20 new community forest permits issued every year. We are also continuing to set up community forestry enterprises and have begun to pilot agroforestry as part of the mix of options. We call on ICRAF to support us in this along with other civil society partners to help the Government reach our goals. We want to reduce poverty and the impact of climate change. Community forestry and agroforestry enterprises can do this through engagement with the ASEAN Economic Community. We want not just policy but practice: ‘talk less at national level but do more at local’. This is what the farmers are saying. They want action’.
Öborn, speaking later on the sidelines of the meeting, said that, ‘The strong demands need to be met from these two developing nations for ICRAF to deploy its global and field experience for the benefit of their citizens and, indeed, to achieve multiple goals for food security, climate-change adaptation and mitigation in the Mekong area. Together with the two governments and the great support of ASEAN, I am confident that we can find the means to put our research-in-development experience to work’.
The ASEAN Social Forestry Network is a government-initiated network that aims to strengthen social forestry in Southeast Asia through the sharing of information and knowledge. The Network was established by ASEAN senior officials in forestry in 2005, linking policy makers directly with civil society and research organizations, academe and the private sector and all others who share a vision of promoting social forestry policy and practices in ASEAN.
This work is linked to the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry