The Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) began its 5th General Assembly in Hanoi on Mar. 7.

The three-day event has drawn representatives from 12 organisations in 10 Asian countries, and territories as well as civic leaders, local organisations and inter-governmental bodies.

The participants discussed the AFA’s strategy and plans for the next five years for farmers, fishermen, women in rural areas, young people and local communities across Asia .

Policies to support regional organic rice production, the impact of higher food prices, climate changes that affect organic agricultural production and opportunities and potential were also debated.

Several AFA members highlighted the challenges that lie ahead for farmers during the modernisation and industrialisation process, with many arguing for more pertinent policies for farmers to ensure sustainability in the coming years.

On addressing the event, the Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Farmers Union Nguyen Duy Luong, stressed that the union has supported the AFA in the past and had put forward smany proposals at a number of regional consultative workshops to tackle the difficulties that Vietnamese and other farmers across the region will face.

The AFA’s Chairman Tsai Shun Te said the association has created a network of farmers across the region so they can share their experiences and initiatives, to help member countries develop agricultural communities in a sustainable manner and introduce policies for farmers that help to reduce poverty levels.

The AFA has also protected the rights of small farmers and enhanced solidarity and cooperation, as well as increasing the capacity of farmers’ associations, he added.

The AFA was first established in 2002 and so far has members from Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Japan, Taiwan, and the Republic of Korea along with new members Bangladesh and Nepal.-VNA