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Annex III: Inaugural Remarks

His Excellency Ngo The Dan, Vice Minister
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Chief of FAO Plant Protection Service, FAO, HQs, Rome
Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of HCM city
Executive Secretary of the APPPC
FAO Representative in Viet Nam
Distinguished Delegates and Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam to attend and give these inaugural remarks at the 22nd session of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission. First of all, I would like to extend my warmly greetings to all distinguished delegates, observers and guests. This is a very important meeting and I am delighted to see here many key representatives from international, regional and national plant protection organizations. I greatly value your spirit of cooperation and I thank all delegates and guests for your participation in this meeting.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Viet Nam is an agricultural country with majority of its population living in rural area. The national economy therefore has been strongly based on agricultural sector. Over the past decade, thanks to profound economic renewal, great achievements have been made in agriculture. The annual growth of the sector is maintained at 4.5 percent. Rice production is not only sufficiently supplied for 80 million people but also has an annual surplus of over 4 million tons for export. From a food shortage country, Viet Nam now becomes one of the world’s largest exporters of rice, coffee, pepper and cashew nut.

Implementing policies toward regional and global economic integration, Viet Nam has been an official member of ASEAN and APEC, and in the process of negotiation for joining the WTO. In this context, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) is assigned by the government of Viet Nam to formulate the development strategy for agricultural sector. You might agree with me that today, raising food productivity is no longer the only and ultimate goal of agricultural development. All factors that have effects on economy, people’s welfare and environment should be taken into account. MARD therefore always gives a high priority to plant protection issue in order to ensure sustainable development of agriculture sector.

With technical and financial assistance of FAO/IPM regional programme, the National IPM Programme has been implemented in Viet Nam since 1992 to address pest problems and excessive use of pesticides. From 1992 to 1998, the programme focused on Training of Trainers (TOT) and Farmer Field Schools (FFS). As of May 2000, there were more than 500 000 farmers who have graduated from nearly 20 000 FFS. Based on the momentum created, many groups of IPM trained farmers have carried out follow-up activities to strengthen IPM and improve agricultural production. In 1998, the national IPM programme began to develop community IPM and bring IPM movement beyond FFS. Those follow-up activities such as IPM club and field studies are expected to contribute to the sustainability of IPM at the community level. IPM activities are now being expanded to other crops such as vegetables, cotton, citrus, etc.

In the present tendency of economic globalization, international trade is growing rapidly, in which plant quarantine plays an ever significant part. Joining the global economy opens up many trade opportunities for Viet Nam but at the same time generates quite a few challenges, particularly the implementation of WTO/Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement and International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). As an export-oriented country, Viet Nam realizes the importance of, among others, the strengthening of national plant quarantine system in order to not only effectively protect the sustainability of agricultural production but also satisfy quarantine requirements of importing countries so that Viet Nam agricultural produce can have access to the world market. In line with this, the Ordinance on Plant Protection and Quarantine has been revised and approved by the National Assembly in July 2001 so as to comply with the SPS Agreement and IPPC.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the past two years, the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission has put great effort in making amendments to the Plant Protection Agreement for the Asia and Pacific region. I am very glad to see that the revised text of the Agreement has been finalized and hopefully it will be adopted by all member countries after this meeting. Based on the revision, the meeting will discuss next steps for implementation as well as propose new international and regional standards. For a large region like Asia and Pacific, the regional and sub-regional standards are very useful to member countries in a sense that these standards correspond to the region-specific need of preventing the spread of injurious pests while facilitating agricultural trade. In this regard, I realize the significant role of the commission in addressing all issues of common importance in the region such as South American Leaf Blight (SALB) disease and land border plant quarantine. Particularly, I hope that the regional standard concerning the exclusion of SALB disease will be put forward after pest risk analysis is conducted appropriately. It is also noted that, countries in the region have different levels of development in terms of phytosanitary capabilities. Therefore, the commission can work out measures to enhance the capacity of member countries in implementing international standards. Only by doing so, the objectives of the Agreement will be fully achieved.

In the next four and a half days, I hope all of you will exchange views in a spirit of openness to further boost our cooperation in the field of plant protection and quarantine.

I wish the meeting very success and please enjoy your stay in Ho Chi Minh City.

It now gives me great pleasure to declare the Twenty-second session of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission officially open.

Thank you very much!

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