ASEAN senior officials on agriculture and forestry met in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 4-5 to prepare for the region’s upcoming ministerial meetings on these sectors.

Speaking at the meeting, Indonesian Agricultural Minister Suswono said this was a necessary activity in preparation for the 33 rd Meeting of ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF-33), the 11 th AMAF Plus Three (including China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) and the first Meeting of ASEAN-India Ministers on Agriculture (AMAF-India), which will take place in Jakarta on October 6, 7 and 8 respectively.

The meeting also offered an opportunity for ASEAN senior officials to put forward specific activities in response to the UN-initiated “International Year of Forests 2011” and discuss measures to implement the ASEAN Plus Three Rice Emergency Reserve (APTERR) Agreement, which aims to support areas hardest hit by natural disasters in the region.

According to Minister Suswono, ASEAN agricultural sectors have recorded remarkable progress with sufficient food supplies, improved living standards for farmers and high competitiveness of agricultural products.

However, regional nations are still facing common challenges on food security and safety due to negative impacts of climate change and increasing trends of urbanisation and globalisation, he said.

It requires each country to improve agricultural production, strengthen forest management and fishing activities as well as speed up cooperation in agricultural development, he added./.