South-South and Triangular cooperation highlighted at Viet Nam 2023 International Rice Festival in Hau Giang
Hau Giang, Vietnam – December 12, 2023 – The ‘Vietnam – Africa Policy Dialogue on South – South cooperation for food system transformation’ workshop was co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) as part of the 2023 International Rice Festival. Agricultural experts from around the world, many of whom are from African countries, met to discuss the systemic transformation of African agricultural systems and the role of South-South cooperation in this process.
Delivering the opening remarks at the conference, MARD Minister Le Minh Hoan affirmed that “With our experience and the support from international donors, Vietnam is always ready and committed to expanding South-South cooperation to support African countries in ensuring food and nutrition security, aiming for green growth, sustainable development, and prosperity.”
As pointed out by Dr. Jongsoo Shin, IRRI Regional Director for Asia, both Africa and Asia confront climate change and environmental challenges. While each region has its unique set of issues, such as low rice yield in Africa compared to stagnant rice yield in Asia, or limited access to technologies and inputs in Africa versus developed technologies amid declining land and water resources in Asia, these challenges underscore the potential for South-South cooperation. The collaboration can revolutionize rice production in both regions by facilitating the exchange of best practices and technology, promoting trade and investments, and fostering policy dialogue and advocacy.
Despite the success stories of collaboration between South Asia and Africa, the significant obstacles of inadequate funding, coordination, and capacity hinder the upscaling of such initiatives. Nonetheless, there are promising avenues for advancement. Partnership and funding mechanisms organized by international organizations, such as FAO and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), offer substantial opportunities to enhance South-South cooperation.
Dr. Pham Ngoc Mau, Deputy Director General of the International Cooperation Department of MARD, asserted that Vietnam stood among the top technology providers in Africa. With financial support from international donors, Vietnam can offer technical assistance to contribute to ensuring food security in partnering countries. Former MARD Vice Minister Bui Ba Bong also acknowledged the pivotal role of IRRI and FAO in the development of agriculture in Vietnam, highlighting the significance of broadening cooperation with international partners.
As part of the conference, MARD and IRRI formalized their collaboration by signing a framework agreement on South-South cooperation. This agreement outlines specific areas of collaboration with shared benefits, including technology and innovation in rice-based agriculture, digital agriculture, and climate-smart agriculture.
The conference and other events within the framework of the International Rice Festival was supported by IRRI and received sponsorship from CGIAR Initiatives on Asian Mega-Deltas and Excellence in Agronomy, as well as other international organizations.