Asian Fusion: New Thinking and Actions for Improving Food and Nutrition Security in Asia

ifpri-newSeptember 27, 2013, SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA – Country experience shared at a recent conference showed that fertilizer subsidies can have huge costs, crowding out public expenditures on agricultural research, extension, rural roads and other expenditures that promote agricultural development. The private sector is often more efficient in delivery of fertilizer to farmers. While historically the seed system in Asia has been directed by the public sector, the private seed industry has been established in many Asian countries and has become increasingly important for seed production and distribution of seeds for wheat, rice, maize, cotton, and horticulture.

On September 25 and 26, at the Agricultural Transformation in Asia conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia, 150 policymakers, researchers, donors, and other stakeholders gathered to discuss current and future agricultural and food security strategies in Asia. The conference was organized by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) and funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

H.E. Dr. Yim Chhay Ly, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and Chairman of the Council for Agricultural and Rural Development, highlighted the value of the conference.  “Cambodia is on the road toward the reform of its agricultural practice, which benefits from this conference and discussion.  This pilot initiative (ReSAKSS-Asia) is very relevant to the agricultural development that Asian leaders are considering.”

Rebecca Black, Mission Director of USAID Cambodia, emphasized the importance of agricultural policy.  “We have learned from experience that policy is key to Asia achieving food security,” said Rebecca.

Fertilizer, seed, and other input policies in Asian countries were the focus of the conference. One outcome of the conference is the development of fertilizer and seed databases led by IFPRI’s ReSAKSS team and shared across a dozen countries in the region. The new database will serve to inform input analysis to bolster public-private partnerships and more efficient market operation. Participating countries include Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, The Philippines, Tajikistan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Agricultural transformation, food and nutrition security are fundamental to our national economic development and social policy goals, in the context of broader economic diversification and competitiveness, poverty reduction, livelihood enhancement, and sustainable inclusive growth,” said Larry Strange, Executive Director of CDRI.

The conference is part of an effort of the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System in Asia (ReSAKSS-Asia), an initiative facilitated by IFPRI, to strengthen networking between policy researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Despite the recent rapid economic growth in certain Asian countries, the continent of Asia is still home to two-thirds of the world’s poor people. The region also has the highest proportion of undernourished people on the planet. Since farming is the main source of income and employment in Asia, the surest way to effect reduction of poverty and malnutrition levels is through agriculture—strengthening the policies and institutions that affect Asian citizens’ access to jobs and food.

“Leaders in each country deeply value the food security of the rural poor, especially women and children, and we are developing food and nutrition security policy for the region to improve the situation,” said H.E. Dr. Yim Chhay Ly.

“The ReSAKSS-Asia conference itself has been designed in part for capacity strengthening. Each of us, including researchers, government officials, private sector actors, has important experiences to share with others in our country and in other countries,” said Paul Dorosh, director of the Development Strategy and Governance Division at IFPRI. “All of us should be learning from one another.”

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The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries. It is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.

The Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) is an independent Cambodian development policy research institute. CDRI’s mission is to contribute to Cambodia’s sustainable development and the well-being of its people through the generation of high quality policy-relevant development research, knowledge dissemination and capacity building.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States. As stated in the President’s National Security Strategy, USAID’s work in development joins diplomacy and defense as one of three key pieces of the nation’s foreign policy apparatus. USAID promotes peace and stability by fostering economic growth, protecting human health, providing emergency humanitarian assistance, and enhancing democracy in developing countries. These efforts to improve the lives of millions of people worldwide represent U.S. values and advance U.S. interests for peace and prosperity.

Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduces hunger, poverty and undernutrition.  More information: