9TH ANNIVERSARY OF APTERR STRENGTHENING FOOD SECURITY IN ASEAN+3
The ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) was established under the APTERR Agreement signed by the Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry of the ASEAN Plus the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and Republic of Korea (AMAF+3) on 7 October 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia. This year, 2020, marks the 9th anniversary of the signing of the APTERR Agreement.
The APTERR is an intergovernmental organisation and the members comprise of ASEAN member states, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, with the aims at strengthening food security, poverty alleviation, and malnourishment eradicating without distorting a normal trade of rice. The APTERR is composed of APTERR Council which are representatives from each member country who acts as the governing body, and the APTERR Secretariat who plays the important role of coordination, facilitating, and implementing the APTERR mechanism.
The APTERR Secretariat is currently headed by Mr. Chanpithya Shimphalee, General Manager, who is appointed by the APTERR Council. The APTERR Secretariat runs with the financial support from the member countries and its status and activities are protected by the Thai law, namely “the Operations of ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve Secretariat Protection Act B.E. 2559” issued on 6 August 2016. The Secretariat’s office is located in Bangkok under a generous in-kind contribution from the Government of Thailand through the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE). Particularly, this year, the OAE has kindly provided new office space to the APTERR Secretariat in order to be more splendid to enhance the efficiency of the APTERR Secretariat.
The APTERR implements its mission through two types of rice reserves; 1) earmarked rice reserves and 2) stockpiled rice reserves. Earmarked rice reserves comprise a total stock of 787,000 tonnes of milled rice, contributed and kept by each APTERR member’s government, to cover the emergency requirements of APTERR member countries. Earmarked rice reserves are implemented through Tier 1 and Tier 2 programmes. Earmarked rice reserves consist of 87,000 tonnes from ASEAN and 700,000 tonnes from the Plus Three countries (15,000 tonnes from Thailand). Tier 1 is a release of earmarked stocks for an anticipated emergency. Tier 2 is released for unanticipated emergencies. Both Tier 1 and Tier 2 are carried out on a commercial basis. By contrast, stockpiled rice reserves comprise rice voluntarily donated by member countries in the forms of cash or physical rice. The stocks are implemented through the Tier 3 programme for relief of acute emergencies and/or other humanitarian issues.
To-date, the APTERR has executed Tier 1 and Tier 3 programmes. A trial Tier 1 programme between the Philippines and Japan commenced in 2018, with the committed amount of 10,000 tonnes of earmarked stocks. Implementation of Tier 3 during 2011-2020 has entailed provision of rice assistance to over five million beneficiaries in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam with the total amount of 27,899 tonnes donated by Japan, China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Korea.
This year alone, APTERR received a total of 3,975 tonnes of milled rice and 4 tonnes of precooked rice donated by Japan and Korea through the Tier 3 programme to support Cambodia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. The introduction of precooked rice initiated by Japan to support the Tier 3 programme is an example of APTERR’s endeavors to improve the existing Tier 3 mechanism to become more practical and effective.
Beside a main task on providing rice assistance, the APTERR also issues a comprehensive food security information to the APTERR Parties as well as the public. The APTERR has provided the Weekly Update and Quarterly Report by gathering and analysing data concentrating on food security from the APTERR Parties and relevant organisations as well as media. This year, the APTERR is also planning to launch an annual report to share information focusing on the current food security and rice situations in the ASEAN+3 region. Moreover, the APTERR has eagerly enhanced collaboration with food security information-related agencies, particularly the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS) and the international humanitarian assistance agencies in gathering data from various sources to improve the evaluation of implementation and the outcome of all releases from emergency rice reserves and update the alert level for the emergency occurrences in the due time. For more information, please visit www.apterr.org or Facebook page “ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR).”
Faced with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the APTERR Secretariat took action in response to the recommendations of the Special ASEAN+3 Summit on COVID-19 on 14 April 2020, including issuing a statement emphasising strong collaboration with member countries in utilising the full extent of the APTERR mechanism to ensure food security in the region. Moreover, the APTERR has closely monitored food security situations and cooperated with members to mitigate uncertain impacts of the outbreak on those affected, especially vulnerable groups. APTERR is now providing rice assistance to address acute food insecurity resulting from the increasing spread of COVID-19 in Myanmar.
“Food security has become a significant issue owing to increasing impacts of climate change and manmade disasters. To alleviate the problematic effects, the APTERR needs to further develop its mechanisms for coping with emergency impacts. It also has to concentrate on cooperating with food security related agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP), the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (AHA Centre) on disaster management, and, in particular, the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS). This will improve operation efficiency so that we can quickly respond to needs of member countries,” concluded Mr. Shimphalee.
7 October 2020
*This article was edited from the news article published in the Bangkok Post newspaper on 7 October 2020. It is a product of the APTERR Secretariat. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the APTERR Secretariat and its APTERR members.