June 2023, Siem Reap, Cambodia – The Agroecology Learning Alliance in South East Asia (ALiSEA) successfully concluded its Regional Board Members Meeting in Cambodia. Held from May 29 to June 01, 2023, the event brought together 17 participants who were board members of institutions of ALiSEA networks from research centers (CARES, NOMAFSI) , academia (NUoL), farmers’ federation (CFAP), social enterprise (Click), national and international non-governmental organizations (DPA, DCA, RDA, SAEDA, CISDOMA, PHANO and GRET) in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Two organizations guests were also invited to take part in the discussions: Uni4coop, as technical and financial support provided to ALiSEA in Cambodia and Mediaseeds, as support for ALiSEA’s communication strategy.

ALiSEA’s primary objectives for the meeting were to build networks and facilitate effective communication among the ALiSEA Board Members in the region. Additionally, the meeting aimed to remind all participants of the history of ALiSEA and to look forward to its future. Lastly, the gathering sought to develop a common vision for the internal structure and management of the ALiSEA network in the region.

Throughout the meeting, board members engaged in various activities and discussions that fostered network building and strengthened communication among the participants. By sharing experiences, insights, and expertise, the board members established strong connections and fostered collaboration that will support their collective efforts towards agroecology in the region.

Participants also had the opportunity to embark on a field visit to the Cambodian Conservation Agriculture Research for Development Center (CARDEC) in Kampong Cham province, under the Department of Agricultural Land Resources Management (DALRM) of General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA). CARDEC aspires to become a leading national and regional center in promoting agricultural modernization and agroecology transition. The center is composed of the training campus and the research station (14.5ha). This visit provided an orientation to the center’s activities which are to conduct experimentation and research, , to build capacity for relevant stakeholders, to preserve a large genetic bank of crops genetic resources and to assess and promote agroecological and sustainable intensification-based production systems.

The center has received support from AFD, CIRAD, the Royal University of Agriculture, Swisscontact, the French Facility for Global Environment, the European Union, the Swiss Development Cooperation, Kansas State University, and USAID.

A second field day was organized in Siem Reap province to discover the EcoFarm cooperative, which officially registered in 2018. Participants learned about the cooperative’s agroecological vegetable production (composting, bio-pesticides etc.), its strategy for supplying local markets in the districts, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh cities and, its quality traceability system thanks to the implementation of PGS certification (Participatory Guarantee System). The agricultural cooperative gathers 120 members including 93 women, sells 280 tons of agroecological vegetables per year on 5 ha, produces 20 different types of vegetable seed, sells 6 tons of compost per year and manages a capital of 7,000 USD. This cooperative is supported by GRET, CIRD and PDAFF of Siem Reap.

“Each country has agroecology lessons and good practices that might be similar or different. Field visit and meetings among the board of members from the three countries provide me a good opportunity to see our common vision and goal to develop our activities and join hands-on dissemination of information. It was also a crucial event for sharing knowledge and various activity implementations relevant to agroecology practices and policies for sustainable food systems in Laos and others countries based on their specific contexts,”Chintanaphone Keovichith (CLICK), National Secretariat of ALiSEA in Laos.

The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to reflect on ALiSEA’s journey since its inception, acknowledging the organization’s milestones, achievements, and challenges along the way. By revisiting its history, board members gained valuable insights that informed their discussions about the future of ALiSEA. They collectively envisioned the organization’s trajectory, shaping its strategic direction and ensuring its continued impact in the region.

An important outcome of the meeting was the development of a shared vision for the internal structure and management of the ALiSEA network.  Furthermore, the ALiSEA Board Members have identified seven priority elements on which to work to shape the future of the ALiSEA network:

  1. Define economical strategy
  2. Improve knowledge management and sharing
  3. Contribution to policy dialogues processes
  4. Enhance and boost members’ services and collaboration
  5. Improve internal structuration and governance mechanisms
  6. Support members on market access and quality certification
  7. Broaden partnership and alliances

Board members worked together to align their perspectives and agree upon a unified framework that would enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. This shared vision will guide the sustainable growth and development of the ALiSEA network going forward.

“The development of a shared vision for the internal structure and management of the ALiSEA network is a significant milestone in the journey of the organization. It is a testament to the commitment of our board members to working together to promote agroecology in Southeast Asia. I am confident that this shared vision will guide the sustainable growth and development of the ALiSEA network going forward.”Lucie Reynaud (GRET), Leader of the ALiSEA sub-component in ASSET project.

The ALiSEA Regional Board Members Meeting in Cambodia marked a significant milestone in the journey of the organization and its commitment to promoting agroecology in Southeast Asia. By fostering collaboration, sharing knowledge, and setting a common vision, the meeting has contributed to advancing the agroecology movement in the region.

ALiSEA and its board members remain dedicated to working collectively towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system in Southeast Asia. The results of this regional ALiSEA Board Members workshop will lead to the preparation and organization of the ALiSEA Regional General Assembly, which will take place tentatively in November 2023. The successful conclusion of this meeting has laid a strong foundation for continued collaboration and impactful initiatives that will create positive change in local communities and the environment.

This ALiSEA activity is part of ASSET Project that is implemented with the financial assistance of the French Development Agency (AFD), the European Union (EU), and the French Facility for Global Environment (FFEM).