5. Policy Makers and Networks
Relationships with Policy Makers
Strong collaboration was especially built up with focal Ministries and Departments on different administrative levels. Particularly key departments within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI) such as the regional Departments of Agriculture (DoA) in Yangon and Magway, and the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR) became strongly aligned. Also within the Ministry of Commerce the Trade Promotion Department (TPD) and Consumer Affairs worked together with Civic Engagement Alliance partners to promote production of safe food and marketing of pulses.
Throughout the period of the Civic Engagement Alliance program, increasingly linkages were made with key politicians and government officials. Especially the shared interest on the promotion of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), regulation of the use of chemical pesticides, encouragement of climate-smart agriculture and farmer cooperation in order to increase food safety and income from export, triggered parliamentarians’ interest. One of the committees requested ICCO and NAG to participate in an inquiry (supported by UNDP) on the negative effects of chemical pesticides.
Membership of Relevant Networks
ICCO chaired the Pulses and Oilseeds Working Group of the Myanmar Agricultural Network (MAN): in this network businesses, policy makers and civil society groups together seek to build a more profitable and sustainable agricultural sector through collaborative events, policy advice and partnerships. Under MAN, ICCO was able to organize multiple round tables, gather learnings, and foster collaboration between parties active in the pulses sector.
The partners of the Civic Engagement Alliance are actively involved in the Food Security Working Group (FSWG), which is a network of more than 240 CSOs. ICCO’s country coordinator is a member of the Steering Committee and FSWG members actively contributed to the learning sessions of Civic Engagement Alliance. ICCO, together with FSWG and NAG, organized two high level policy dialogue events with policy makers and decision-makers about the research findings as evidence for better enforcement of agri-inputs and trade policies and structural reform of the Department of Agriculture.
ICCO, NAG and the Regional Farmer Association from Yangon joined the International Mungbean Improvement Network. Here they provided input regarding seed improvement. Farmer leaders were invited to events where they raised their voices, leading to buyers approaching them for more information. Businesses that we engaged in our stakeholder meetings are becoming aware of the importance of inclusive business models and responsible business practices.
Being part of ACT Alliance enabled the Alliance to provide information about the potential negative impacts of the EU ‘Everything But Arms’ trade agreement withdrawal and articulate what risks are associated with the EU Myanmar Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Through the connection with ACT Alliance Brussels, information was shared to inform EU trade policy makers about cases on the ground in Myanmar, and connections were made with business and human rights advocates such as the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALT-SEAN).
Due to a good connection with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Civic Engagement Alliance has been inserted into a network of international organizations working on economic policy advocacy. This connection enabled partners to learn from other advocacy networks. For instance, Alliance’s partners exchanged information and built capacity about land access and land law-related issues from the Land Core Group, Oxfam GB and associated organizations. In support of this, the Civic Engagement Alliance alerted their stakeholders to the impending challenges related to the new ‘Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Law Amendment’, which was implemented in 2018. Though not directly affecting many pulses farmers, ICCO, RDA and KMSS lent their voices and signatures in support of press releases alerting the general public to these issues.