The first meeting of the APAARI Executive Committee (EC) for 2019 was held on 13 June 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand, under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mellissa Wood, Chair, APAARI, and General Manager, Global Program, Australian Centre for International Research (ACIAR), Australia.

The Secretariat team presented the status of taken actions on the recommendations made by the previous EC meeting and General Assembly Meeting; the recently initiated Monitoring, Evaluation, Reporting and Learning (MERL) activities; and overall progress made by APAARI during the period December 2018 to April 2019 with respect to governance, partnerships, Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agrobiotechnology and Bioresources (APCoAB), Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) project, and Knowledge Management (KM). New project scoping and development, submitted and secured projects, as well as membership drive, collaboration, participation in meetings organized by other organizations, new recruitments and country visits were presented as well. The team further presented the APAARI Work Plan in relation to these key activities mentioned above.

The APAARI Constitution has been going through review and amendments to make the management and governance of APAARI more effective, specifically in addressing the changing context of agri-food systems in the Asia-Pacific Region. The final draft of the amended Constitution was presented and discussed. Furthermore, the newly drafted APAARI Membership Strategy, encompassing strategic considerations and basic guiding principles involved in the mobilization and management of the APAARI membership was presented for the first time to the EC members. The strategy will be integrated in the overall Resource Mobilization Strategy of the Association, which has now been completed. This is to ensure a systematic and coordinated approach to guide the Association in securing new and additional resources, as well as making better use of existing resources.

“We get things done when we work with APAARI,” Dr. Gert-Jan Stads, IFPRI

As integral efforts of enhancing APAARI management and governance through comprehensive review and amendments to APAARI Constitution, further measures in terms of various Managements Standards (Membership Management Standard, Management Standard for the Executive Committee, Management Standard for the Executive Secretary) and Rules of Procedure – General Assembly, were proposed and endorsed by the EC. They will provide the necessary and basic framework in enhancing and improving APAARI’s overall performance to bring positive impacts.  

Regarding the membership and fee payment status as of 30 April 2019, it was highlighted that APAARI had 80 members and a number key issues to resolve. These include: inability to pay or continue as members, pending payments, and difficulty of some members to pay arrears.  The summary Income and Expenditure Statements, Audit Report, an overview of status and position of financial resources of APAARI, as well as how these have been managed effectively were also presented. A shift to a new financial management system that is in line with international standards was stressed, as an important measure of APAARI to effectively manage and account for income and expenditures from 2018.

“There is a big appreciation of FAO for being invited to the EC meeting, which shows the value of our partnership,” Dr. Abdoulaye Saley Moussa, FAO

A key administrative issue that was explored was the process of obtaining the legal status for APAARI in Thailand, and related communication and relations with respective government agencies in the country, as well as the Food for Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Regional Office for Asia-Pacific (RAP).

Presentations by the special invitees highlighting topics of collaboration and potential collaboration with APAARI included: scaling up R&D (Dr. Taek Ryoun Kwon, Republic of Korea); SMART Food Initiative (Ms. Joanna Kane-Potaka, International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics – ICRISAT); agribiotechnology (Dr. Shivendra Bajaj, Federation of Seed Industry / Alliance for Agri Innovation – FSII-AAI of India); transformation of agricultural education (Dr. Kumar, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University – TNAU); ASTI programme (Dr. Gert-Jan Stads, International Food Policy Research Institute – IFPRI); agroecology (Dr. Philippe Girard, French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development – CIRAD); Mega Seed Park Initiative (Dr. Varaprasad, India); and capacity development assessment (Dr. Abdoulaye Saley Moussa, FAO).

Both Ms. Wood and Dr. Mahapatra, Vice Chair of the EC and Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), expressed their appreciation of the enormous progress done by APAARI. This includes a significant increase in budget between 2017-2019, large projections for new activities, management standards providing clarity of management reforms, and legal status that all will provide new dimensions to APAARI operations. They both agreed that APAARI has matured compared to 2016 with enormous changes taking place, including at the governance level. APAARI is playing an important role by bringing institutions together to discuss common issues, which is its added value.