4th ANTAM Meeting, 24 October 2012, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Comprising 14 member states including Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Russian Federation, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam, and a Steering Committee (SC) consisting of FAO, ENAMA/ENTAM, OECD, CSAM[1] and UNIDO, the 4th ANTAM Meeting was held on 24 October 2012 in Kandy Sri Lanka.
Ms. AI, Yuxin, Senior Expert and Officer-in-Charge of CSAM briefed participants on the development of the ANTAM process. In her presentation, missing links that need to be addressed and further elaborated before the launch of the Network were indentified. Based on panel discussions, Ms. Ai also outlined a concrete action plan for the establishment of the Network in 2013 and related capacity building activities in 2014-2015. Participants agreed that a holistic approach should be adopted to promote ANTAM, including a publicity campaign to strengthen communication with various stakeholders, particularly the policy makers, while the building of the ownership of the ANTAM process by member states is equally important.
Mr. Sandro Liberatori, Director General of ENAMA (Italian national farm machinery testing body, and a member of the European Network for Testing Agricultural Machinery, ENTAM), emphasized the three pillars of safety of machinery, namely, safety of the operator, environment, and food production. Mr. Liberatori suggested that at the initial stage of ANTAM, a simplified methodology with regard to safety and performance of the machinery be developed. In order to make the Governments be aware of the importance of this activity, special attention should be paid to the social cost as a result of the use of unsafe machinery. Mr. Liberatori stressed that test reports of machinery should be simple for farmers to understand, and provide adequate information for farmers to choose the appropriate machinery. Mr. Liberatori further suggested that ANTAM can start with simplified codes for ROPS test of tractors, and seek agreement of member states. Mr. Liberatori also expressed the staunch support of ENAMA in the establishment of ANTAM, and ENAMA was ready to provide technical expertise and assistance as already done with other international organizations.
Mr. Namal Samarakoon, Industrial Development Officer, Agri-business Development Branch of UNIDO made a presentation on guidelines for the establishment of agro-machinery testing centres. Mr. Samarakoon noted that agricultural machinery testing makes significant contribution to agricultural mechanization process in the region, not only benefiting manufacturers and users, but also extension services and credit agencies. It will also promote agricultural machinery related R&D and agro-machinery market. Mr. Namal introduced steps for the establishment of a national testing station. Mr. Namal stressed that no new testing standards need to be developed at the initial stage while efforts be made to make use of the existing international test standards including many developed by and for developing countries. However, evaluation, selection, and adoption of the test standards that address the needs of national conditions will be required.
Mr. Michael Ryan, Head of Codes and Schemes of Trade and Agriculture Directorate of OECD made a presentation on OECD standard codes for official testing of agricultural and forestry tractors. Mr. Ryan reviewed the history of OECD tractor codes, objectives and how the system functions. Mr. Ryan noted that harmonization of test procedures among countries and how to exercise quality control is critical for the credibility of the network. In addition to the three key pillars of safety, the system also involves key stakeholders including regulators, manufacturers, and users. Mr. Ryan stressed that it is a dynamic process with test codes being improved in light of the evolving situation. It is important to establish a coordination centre designated by the governments of member states. The benefits of OECD tractor codes include trade facilitation, labor safety and food security. Mr. Ryan emphasized that it is important to start with a simple and workable system.
While there is a need to establish ANTAM to improve safety of agro-machinery and facilitate intra-regional trade, a functional ANTAM also faces financial and technical challenges, especially the readiness of governments to accept a region-wide testing codes and standards in lieu of the existing national standards. An agreement on unified standards could take time to reach, and recognition of tests conducted in other countries is crucial for ANTAM. At the same time, harmonized codes and standards should take into consideration suitability and adaptation of machinery in light of local conditions including social and climatic conditions, and the interests of small holders. The proposed set of standards should not increase the cost of machinery, and testing should also be conducted on second hand machinery. Participants expressed the hope that ANTAM should deliver tangible benefits, particularly capacity building activities such as training of engineers, development of agricultural engineering curriculum, preparation of test codes guidelines for researchers, sharing prototypes, technical assistance to the existing testing facilities, and development of local laboratories. While the ultimate aim of ANTAM is to facilitate trade, lower cost and provide market access, it is important to be pragmatic in the initial stage of ANTAM, with strengthening of the existing facilities as a possible starting point. It was agreed that collaboration should be forged with international organizations, research institutes and testing stations. Participants suggested that ANTAM be listed as a priority project of ESCAP.
Dr. Ravi Ratnayake, Director of Trade and Investment of ESCAP, summarized the deliberations by emphasizing that given the complexity and challenge of establishing ANTAM, a multi-stage approach is required. In the initial stage, priorities could be given to capacity building, including improvement of the existing testing stations, training activities and analysis and research with the long-term objective of mutual recognition of test results. Dr. Ratnayake stressed the importance of partnership building with relevant international organizations and agencies along the process, and drawing upon each otherí»s strength and lessons. ANTAM should be member states driven, and commitment of member states is essential to push forward the network. Dr. Ratnayake recommended that CSAM work with representatives of member states to come up with a possible resolution on ANTAM for adoption at the Commission Session of ESCAP, which will give a big boost to the Network.

[1] The United Nations Asian and Pacific Centre for Agricultural Engineering and Machinery (UNAPCAEM) has been renamed to Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Mechanization (CSAM) effective 1 October 2012.
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