The 9th Annual Meeting of the Asian and Pacific Network for Testing of Agricultural Machinery (ANTAM) was held in Selangor, Malaysia, at the headquarters of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) from 27 February to 01 March, 2023.
Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Zabawi bin Abdul Ghani, the Director General of MARDI, and Dr. Yutong Li, Head of ESCAP-CSAM delivered welcome remarks. Dr. Azman bin Hamzah, Director of the Engineering Research Center of MARDI, opened the Meeting as outgoing Chair of ANTAM.
National Focal Points and representatives of 17 countries participating in ANTAM attended the event in person and online, together with the ANTAM Technical Reference Unit, and advisory board members from FAO and OECD.
The Chairs of the ANTAM Technical Working Groups presented the work carried out over several consultations in 2022, and the Meeting adopted the updated ANTAM Codes for Power Tillers (001-2022); Mister-cum-Dusters (002-2022); and Paddy Transplanters (003-2022). The draft Codes for Combine Harvesters and Mini Tillers were also reviewed and the Meeting commended the TWGs for their work.
The Meeting also reviewed the preliminary findings of a feasibility study on the establishment of a mutual recognition system currently under development, as well as the recommendations from the High-Level Policy Dialogue on Trade Facilitation through International Standards and Mutual Recognition of Agricultural Machinery Testing that was recently held alongside the first session of the ESCAP Committee on Trade, Investment, Enterprise and Business Innovation in order to present ANTAM to authorities in charge of standards and trade. Following a round of discussions on the mutual recognition system; accreditation of testing stations and appointment of National Designated Authorities, the Meeting endorsed the convening of a working group for the development of a mutual recognition system, composed of officials from the standards authorities of ANTAM participating countries.
ANTAM is dedicated to the development of harmonized testing codes and procedures for agricultural machinery in the region. Nevertheless the vision of the Network goes far beyond this as it works closely with its participating countries to support their capacity building needs in agricultural machinery testing; and aims at enhancing the trade and affordability of small agricultural machinery in the region, together with the regional integration and competitiveness of the agricultural sector.
As underscored by Dr. Li Yutong, the Head of ESCAP-CSAM, “Establishing common testing procedures and standards, ensuring that agricultural machinery is tested consistently and accurately across the region can indeed be a boost for trade and food security in our countries, promoting fair competition among manufacturers and importers and helping farmers make informed decisions when purchasing agricultural machinery.”
The participants also attended a field trip which showcased the plant factory technologies in MARDI, including the facilities researching visual-based systems by using gantry robots to detect maturity and pests of tomato fruits in a greenhouse trial plot, and the vertical factory farm which demonstrates an alternative to conventional farming with the application of hydroponics and LED tube combination as power supply to plant modules.
ANTAM will continue to provide valuable services to its member countries in 2023, in close collaboration with the newly elected Chair and Vice Chair, respectively the Republic of Korea and Nepal.