Food Security Agenda Taking Shape in ASEAN News Feed

Private Sector Presents Recommendations to ASEAN

Noordin Azhari at ASEAN Food Security ConferenceOctober 3-6, 2011—ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry, agricultural and food processing companies, farmers’ associations, think tanks, and local government officials involved in food trade, safety, and regulation gathered in Jakarta for the third ASEAN Food Security Conference on Regional Food Trade & Investment.

At the conference the 100+ attendees explored how to sustain an affordable and nutritious supply of food in the ASEAN region, with emphasis on the role of the private sector. Speakers were from regional and multinational companies, including Cargill, CP Foods of Thailand, CropLife, DuPont, PT Indofood, and Syngenta.

In his opening speech, H.E. Mr. San Vanty, Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries for the Kingdom of Cambodia, said that involvement of the private sector was a top priority for food security because the relationship between production and trade “adds value to agricultural products and creates jobs for rural people, thereby increasing income and reducing poverty.”

U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden told attendees that harmonizing “economic, trade, and investment policies across ASEAN member-states offers the best opportunity for the private sector to make their maximum contribution to food security.” Ambassador Carden also asked attendees to consider a host of areas affecting food security—climate change, deforestation, the health of waterways and oceans, pandemic preparedness, law enforcement, illegal fishing, land use and energy, and how financial institutions could help agribusiness, government, and farmers hedge against price fluctuations.

Discussions ranged from the importance of empowering ASEAN’s rural producers to the need for harmonized and transparent application of trade rules and regulations. All agreed on the importance of institutionalizing channels of communication and partnership between the private sector and the makers of ASEAN’s agricultural policies.

Private sector representatives presented recommendations in their first-ever formal dialogue with ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry. The recommendations highlighted how efficient trade can boost food security, which in turn requires a harmonized approach to regulations, standards, notifications, registrations, quarantines, certifications, and inspections across ASEAN Member States.

In addition to recommending harmonization, private sector representatives recommended

  • Developing agriculture sector diagnostics and benchmarking sector and food security policies among ASEAN Member States.
  • Supporting productivity by making sure that ASEAN’s farmers have access to new and sustainable technologies, knowledge of national and regional regulations and standards, and appropriate incentives. 
  • Expanding dialogue to include ministries of economy, finance, trade, agriculture, health, and environment.

The event concluded with the ASEAN Ministers calling for continued dialogue with the private agrifood sector and public-private partnerships to advance the region’s food security objectives.

Hosted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture, the conference was sponsored by USAID, the U.S. Mission to ASEAN, and the ASEAN Secretariat. It was organized by the ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility, which is managed by Nathan Associates.

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