The Core Agriculture Support Program (CASP) Phase 1 (2006-2010) was endorsed at the First Greater Mekong Subregion Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in April 2007. CASP I had five components:
- Component 1: Facilitating Cross-Border Agricultural Trade and Investment
- Component 2: Promoting Public-Private Partnerships for Sharing Agricultural Information
- Component 3: Enhancing Capacity in Agricultural Science and Technology
- Component 4: Establishing Emergency Response Mechanisms for Agricultural and Natural Resource Crises
- Component 5: Strengthening Institutional Linkages and Mechanisms for Cooperation
Implementation of CASP Phase I has been supported by ADB and several other development partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).. CASP Phase I moved forward several regional cooperation strategies. Measures related to facilitating cross-border agricultural trade and investment, that include regional initiatives to strengthen human and institutional resources to implement sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, are progressing well. Public–private partnerships initiatives have been launched to facilitate the sharing of agricultural information, including the GMS Agriculture Information Network Service (GMS AINS), supported by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the Ayeyawady–Chao Phraya–Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy. Progress has been made in preventing and controlling transboundary invasive species and animal diseases based on regional emergency response mechanisms to manage agricultural and natural resources crises in the GMS. ADB supported the preparation of a trade facilitation study among GMS member countries that provides insights to customs and quarantine procedures at several GMS borders, and includes a trade facilitation plan.
Component 1: Facilitating Cross-Border Agricultural Trade and Investment
The GMS Program, through the development of the Economic Corridors, has increased trade among the GMS countries. It has created many opportunities for cross-border trade and investment in agriculture. However, there is much to be done to facilitate agricultural development and trade in a way that ensures equitable distribution of benefits. Contract farming was seen as a major growth area in cross-border trade, especially in the emerging biofuel industry. Food safety and quality of agricultural products in GMS countries lagged considerably behind those in developed countries. Sanitary and phytosanitary regulations varied among GMS countries. The adoption of common standards on agricultural products to facilitate intraregional trade was addressed in this component.
Component 2: Promoting Public-Private Partnerships for Sharing Agricultural Information
Information and knowledge sharing is important for agricultural development. Research centers have information systems of great use to farmers and agribusiness, for example, the Rice Knowledge Bank (IRRI) and the Agriculture Knowledge Platform (CIRAD) for Mekong Countries (AgriMek). Effective mechanisms are needed in order to share this information among the GMS for mutual benefit. The centerpiece of this component is the GMS Agricultural Information Network Service (GMS AINS), which is being implemented by the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center (FECC) of the PRC Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with relevant departments in the GMS countries. Other projects in this component were envisioned to facilitate the establishment of rural agriculture knowledge platforms in each GMS country with regional and national technical hubs. This is crucial to help farmers acquire and apply knowledge to local conditions for increasing productivity of sustainable agriculture.
Component 3: Enhancing Capacity in Agricultural Science and Technology
Because the GMS is still primarily agrarian, enhancing the quality of human resources in the agriculture sector is crucial to accelerating broad-based economic growth. A recent assessment of agricultural training needs in the GMS highlighted the need to strengthen capabilities for improving the productivity and quality of high-value crops and animals and sustainable use and safe transfer of agro-biotechnology. This component promoted rural renewable energy sources, particularly through demonstration and training in the use of biogas and biofuel technology. It continued to support advanced science and technology undertakings in biotechnology and biofuels to improve farming systems and enhance associated value chains. Through regional initiatives in research, training, and extension, this component mobilized resources to encourage the development of regional institutions as centers for excellence or centers of development. These centers hosted visiting experts from GMS countries and other regions for collaborative undertakings and to provide resource persons in training programs. Such centers also served as venues for study tours and farmers’ visits.
Component 4: Establishing Emergency Response Mechanisms for Agricultural and Natural Resource Crises
Agriculture-related emergencies, calamities, and natural disasters, such as the spread of animal disease, floods, pest infestation, and forest fires, could result in huge economic losses in the GMS. One of the main areas of focus is transboundary animal diseases (TADs), some of which are infectious to human beings, causing severe illness and death. Economically important TADs, such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever, and highly pathogenic avian influenza, are widely spread in large parts of Southeast Asia and the People's Republic of China. TADs can have far-reaching socioeconomic impacts on regional and international trade, food safety, public health, and tourism. They affect particularly the livelihoods of poor farmers for whom livestock is often the only source of income.
Component 5: Strengthening Institutional Linkages and Mechanisms for Cooperation
Institutional cooperation is the glue that makes the CASP work. It provides the synergies among the GMS countries needed to accelerate progress in pro-poor agricultural development. Institutional partnerships, linkages, operation systems, protocols, and other mechanisms need to be developed to enhance productivity, growth, and equity in the GMS agriculture sector. This component promoted various forms of cooperation in priority areas identified by the GMS Working Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA). Particular emphasis were placed on promoting partnerships with international and regional organizations, the private sector, and civil society groups. Priority institutional linkages and forms of cooperation included
- promoting partnerships with multilateral and bilateral donors, specialized agencies, regional organizations, and nongovernment and private sector organizations;
- developing alliances and partnerships with interested private sector groups to seek innovative approaches for closer cooperation between farmers and small-scale processing, marketing, and business units;
- harmonizing the activities of the WGA with those of the other GMS sectoral working groups – environment, trade facilitation, transport, and human resource development;
- sharing best practices, research results, and information with stakeholders in the private (including farmers), public, and nongovernment organization sectors, as well as with development partners and international centers of excellence;
- creating opportunities for dialogue for participatory planning, design, and knowledge dissemination;
- establishing communities of practice among GMS countries and development partners for reducing rural poverty;
- supporting special studies and preparation of an operations manual;
- preparing training programs on specific subjects to be identified by the WGA; and
- communicating information to all stakeholders through publications, newsletters, sourcebooks, and flyers.