Cambodian and Other Leaders Call for Innovation and Partnership to Strengthen the Regional Food Systems

Rapid innovation is needed to meet a 40 percent increase in food demand expected in the ASEAN region by 2050, according to the 120 leaders who gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN and the associated Grow Asia Forum to discuss progress to date and define strategies for scaling up to reach 10 million smallholder farmers by 2020.

According to a WEF’s news release, business and government leaders emphasised the need to develop sustainable approaches to meet growing demand, to reduce the impact on environmental resources, including land, water and ecosystems affected by climate volatility are the main topic in that forum.

Farmers are stewards of the land and can partner with business and government to use sustainable approaches, said Ms. Estrella Penunia, Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development.

With Grow Aisa’s support, Cambodian has recently launched the Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture to provide opportunities to farmers through sustainable value chains, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishery H.E. Veng Sakhon said.

Besides, engaging young farmers and entrepreneurs is also key to the future of the sector, given that half of the ASEAN population is under 30 while the average farmer’s age is rapidly rising. Harnessing technology to come up with innovative solutions can help reduce resources while attracting young people to engage in agriculture, said Dr. Jens Hartmann, Head of Asia-Pacific, Bayer. In partnership with Grow Asia, we are working with communities to roll out new solutions, such as in the area of digital, to increase productivity and sustainability.

Grow Asia is an innovative partnership which aims to improve the productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability of ASEAN’s agriculture sector through multi stakeholder partnerships and innovative approaches.

It has established national partnership platforms in five countries which have initiated 46 value-chain projects, raising farmer income by an average 30 percent. As reported at the annual Grow Asia Forum, over 300 organisations are now involved, including governments, companies, farmers’ associations, civil society, international organisations and research institutes.

It is working to advance innovation through initiatives such as the recently launched Grow Asia Counter, an online tool for calculating and monitoring the greenhouse gas emissions of value-chain projects, and the Grow Asia Exchange, a knowledge repository and learning hub. New initiatives will include the Learning Partners’ Network, to aggregate existing research expertise and provide a key link between the private sector and academia, and the development of a free, mobile platform to provide farmers with agronomy and market information.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press