The main reason for the press conference is the increasing problems in the Mekon River region. This is about millions of smallholder farmers and the threats to their livelihood, that are coming from climate change in that region. The Mekon river is one of the largest river basins in the world, not as big as the Amazon, and is located in South East Asia. 70% of the population are making their livelihood from agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Amongst this 70%, there is a large majority of smallholder farmers. Climate change is having an effect on them, the poorest farmers amongst agriculture producers.
Closely related to the situation is food security in the surrounding countries (Cambodia and Laos). The agriculture product is dependant on seasons (the rainy season and the dry season). The flood and the drought coming with these seasons very much influences the agricultural production. This was always the case and the farmers know how to deal with that. What is new now is that the rain doesn’t come when it is meant to come, it doesn’t stay as long as it is meant to stay, and the dry season does the same. So all the tradition that has been learned by the farming family, is now been challenged by a different supply of rain and the dry season. It also challenges the nutritional value of the food.
The Cambodian government has undertaken to address water management and rice production. Farming diversification is being implemented by the Laos government, to cope with changes brought about through climate change.
Of great urgency is technology, which can be used by the smallholder farmers in managing the effects of climate change.
The second urgency is to have the capacity for research in both countries on seeds and on everything related to agricultural production and to develop this into economically useful concepts.