The 20th Meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Working Group on Forest Product Development (AWG-FPD) and related meetings were held in Marriott Hotel, Putrajaya, Malaysia last July 24-29, 2017. The Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau’s (ERDB) OIC-Assistant Director, Dr. Bighani M. Manipula, in behalf of the Director Henry A. Adornado, attended the Philippine delegation. He represented the Country Progress Report on Herbal and Medicinal Plants (HMP) in the Philippines pertaining to the Research and Development activities, production and marketing of HMP Products, involvement of private sectors, and conservation initiatives on HMP.

Overall, there were 69 delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, ASEAN Secretariat, representatives of European Union Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (EU-FLEGT) Facility, and International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) who attended and participated in the discussion. Each representative delivered respective presentations.

The AWG-FPD aims to enhance ASEAN cooperation in forest products development and the alignment of national standards and testing protocols in accordance with International Standard; enhance intra- and extra-ASEAN trade and competitiveness of ASEAN forest products including through inter-alia timber certification; support the development of medicinal and aromatic plant industries, including their conservation and sustainable use; and promote co-operation with ASEAN Dialogue Partners, regional and international organizations and the private sector in marketing and image building for ASEAN forest products. Yearly, conduct of the meetings is held in the host country to monitor the updates of progress, discussion of plan of action, focal points, and concerns in the ASEAN countries with regard to the Forest Products Development. Thus, for this year, Malaysia is the host country.

“ERDB should take the initiative in collating the activities of the agencies involved in the Research and Development of HMP, production and marketing of herbal and medicinal products, the involvement of the private sector in the R&D, and conservation of Herbal and Medicinal Plants in the Philippines”, Dr. Manipula recommended. He also added that in order to realize this, the higher authority of DENR should issue an order to ERDB as focal point to have a legal or official representation to collate the progress of all activities from the different government and private agencies/entities in the country pertaining to Herbal and Medicinal Plants. This will ensure the updated collation of all activities in HMP in the country.

Next year, Myanmar will be the host country for the 21st Meeting of the AWG-FPD tentatively in July 2018. The exact date and venue will be announced by the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN Member States (AMS). – Zhiela A. Alcantara, OAD