Saliot: AWGATE as Frontrunners in Agricultural Training and Extension in the ASEAN

Saliot: AWGATE  as Frontrunners in Agricultural Training and Extension in the ASEAN

TAGAYTAY CITY, Philippines — Effective coordination of sound policies in identifying areas of cooperation among ASEAN member-countries and international agency linkages should be determined to empower the people that they serve, especially the marginalized communities in the countryside. 
This was the core message of Agricultural Training Institute’s Director Asterio P. Saliot to the delegates of the 23rd AWGATE Meeting held last June 14 to 15, 2016 at Taal Vista Hotel in this City. AWGATE is the ASEAN Sectoral Working Group on Agricultural Training and Extension that provides venue for the harmonization of ASEAN policies in agricultural training and extension services.
Saliot expressed the important roles of AWGATE as frontrunners in this sub-sector in the ASEAN, whereas the efficient delivery of services remains at the core of economic progress as one region. Philippine Department of Agriculture Assistant Secretary for Planning and Development and leader of the Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM-AMAF) Paz Benavidez II emphasized that the ASEAN regional integration and harmonization of policies and governance instruments play a crucial role in building a market that upholds opportunities for the agroforestry sector in Southeast Asia. She also identified good agricultural practices, sustainable agriculture, and competitiveness as core principles in modern agriculture. The said principles, according to her, can only be achieved through a meticulously crafted strategic framework in harmonizing agricultural training and extension policies and programs in the ASEAN. 
Delegates from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam attended the Philippines-hosted meeting, where they shared the same views on the need to prepare and educate the young generation on the importance of agriculture and agroforestry sectors. The representatives of the ASEAN member-countries are also united that food security will remain as one of the focus areas in agriculture, therefore, technology- transfer, knowledge on current issues, and management of natural resources should be delivered to the young generations for its sustainability. 
Emphasis on climate change adaptation and private sector engagement as a priority was also noted by the delegates, considering that farmers and extension officers have limited knowledge in the said areas. Other discussions during the meeting were on matters related to the ASEAN Policy Framework, progress of projects on agricultural training and extension, exchange of information on agricultural training and extension activities in ASEAN member states, and terms of reference of the AGWATE. Likewise, it was agreed upon during the meeting that the host country will serve as the Chairperson, while the Vice Chairperson will serve as the next host country for the next AWGATE meeting the following year. Hence, the body elected Saliot from the Philippines and Kanit Likhitvidhayavuth, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Agricultural Extension of Thailand as the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the 23rd AWGATE Meeting, respectively. 
The next AWGATE meeting will be held in Thailand tentatively in May 2017.