As noted by the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres during World Food Day celebrations in October 2022, we are “at a challenging moment for global food security” amid climate change, COVID19, conflicts and rising inflation. He urged stakeholders to “act together to craft bold and coordinated policy responses” which include “urgently unlocking all possible resources […] to support smallholder and family farmers to increase productivity and self-reliance.” The promotion of sustainable agricultural mechanization is crucial for the improvement of food production, both in terms of quality and quantity. Agricultural machinery has become more prominent in the farming process across Asia-Pacific countries in recent decades, demonstrating its positive effects for the many smallholder farmers in the region through the improvement of working conditions, better livelihoods and increased yields. While agricultural mechanization can play a key role in enabling food security and building long-term resilience of farming communities, inefficient machinery remains a prominent cause of food loss, and lack of safety requirements potentially leads to injuries of operators and environmental degradation. Ensuring the quality of agricultural machinery through testing standards is now more important than ever. As many countries in the Asia-Pacific region are importers of agricultural machinery, with little or no domestic manufacturing, international standards can improve regional trade through harmonization and mutual recognition of testing. This is also beneficial to manufacturing countries as it promotes the improvement of machinery’s quality. Apart from fostering regional integration and competitiveness, harmonized testing standards make it easier for governments to optimize subsidy policies and investments for the improvement of the mechanization levels of their agricultural sector.
The Asian and Pacific Network for Testing of Agricultural Machinery (ANTAM) is an initiative led by ESCAP’s Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM) that aims to harmonize testing standards and requirements for agricultural machinery in the Asia-Pacific region. This has the ultimate goal of facilitating trade of quality, safe, efficient and environmentally sound agricultural machinery in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. ANTAM Technical Working Groups and expert meetings have progressed in the development of procedures and standards, and the initiative has also worked to enhance the testing capacities of its members through knowledge sharing and trainings for the application of the testing codes. However, there is a need to explore options for the establishment of a regional mutual recognition system at the policy level, to bring the initiative into full function and enhance trade of safe and efficient agricultural machinery.
The High-Level Policy Dialogue will engage policymakers from Ministries and institutions in charge of trade, standards, conformity and accreditation, to discuss the benefits of standards for international trade, and present the ANTAM initiative and discuss national standards development and accreditation processes, as well as options and practices for the recognition of international standards and certification schemes.
21 to 22 February 2023 | By invitation only