ASEAN Leaders Launch Grow Asia to Boost Food Security and Farmers

  • world economic forumGrow Asia aims to strengthen food security and sustainable agriculture in the ASEAN region, reaching 10 million farmers by 2020
  • Endorsed by all 10 ASEAN Ministers of Agriculture, the partnership engages over 100 organizations from government, private sector, civil society and farmers’ associations
  • The governments of Australia and Canada have pledged $9.5 million to support the partnership
  • For more information about the World Economic Forum on East Asia:

Jakarta, Indonesia, 21 April 2015 – Leaders of business, government and other groups today launched the Grow Asia partnership to strengthen sustainable and inclusive agricultural development and food security in the ASEAN region. The partnership, catalysed by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with the ASEAN Secretariat and involving over 100 organizations, will aim to reach 10 million farmers by 2020, increasing their productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability by 20%.

Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines have launched national initiatives as part of Grow Asia, mobilizing 28 value-chain projects and reaching over 100,000 farmers to date. Grow Asia will support expansion of these efforts and engage additional countries in the region.

The partnership represents the World Economic Forum’s mission as an international organization for public-private cooperation, according to Sarita Nayyar, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum USA. “We are delighted to have developed and catalysed this initiative in partnership with ASEAN and global leaders and look forward to contributing to its success as a driver of transformation in the region,” she said.

“Agriculture can be an engine of growth in the ASEAN region and achieving this potential will depend on the support of all stakeholders,” said Le Luong Minh, Secretary-General of the ASEAN Secretariat.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on East Asia, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, noted the importance of partnership, saying: “It is critical to enhance cooperation for sustainable resource use in the region to help ensure a food-secure future.” Samdech Techno Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, said: “We need to increase the productivity of existing land and provide opportunities for farmers. The private sector has a role to play in bringing development to agriculture through market mechanisms.”

Sixty-five global and regional companies are leading value-chain initiatives in partnership with other stakeholders. “Grow Asia will help scale up innovative business models that we have developed through the Partnership for Indonesia Sustainable Agriculture for crops such as rice, corn and palm oil,” said Franky Widjaja, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sinar Mas Agribusiness & Food.

Grow Asia will provide a platform to coordinate all stakeholders in support of ASEAN countries’ goals, including members of the broader international community. The governments of Australia and Canada announced that they will provide financial support totalling $9.5 million for three years to support Grow Asia programmes and the partnership’s Singapore-based Secretariat. “As the ASEAN region’s close neighbour, Australia believes this unique partnership will benefit local communities and contribute to broader regional food-security goals,” said Simon Merrifield, Ambassador to ASEAN with the Government of Australia.

Farmer leaders are taking an active role in the partnership. “We can bring new opportunities to the grassroots level by organizing farmers and building their capacity,” said Estrella Penunia, Secretary-General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and member of the Grow Asia Partnership Steering Committee. “Civil society groups will engage as partners and advocates to ensure that Grow Asia projects are sustainable and inclusive”, said Anna Chilczuk, Regional Director for East Asia with Mercy Corps and member of the Grow Asia Civil Society Council.

The Co-Chairs of the World Economic on East Asia are: Hans-Paul Bürkner, Chairman, The Boston Consulting Group; John Riady, Executive Director, Lippo Group; Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Chief Executive Officer, PT Bank Mandiri (Persero);William Lacy Swing, Director-General, International Organization for Migration (IOM); and Teresita Sy-Coson, Vice-Chairman of the Board, SM Investments Corporation.