Investments for Food Security in Asia-Pacific: For Whom and For What? - CSO Statement

We, representatives from national and regional organizations and cooperatives of small scale women and men farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples, rural youth and women, and development NGOs in the Asia-Pacific region, wish to present to the delegates of this investment forum organized jointly by Asian Development Bank (ADB), Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) the following:

Away from “Business as Usual” Approach
Partnerships and investments to promote food security in the Asia-Pacific region cannot proceed in the “business-as-usual” approach. Our work and study with poor communities consistently show that large scale trade, technology and business practices of large agro-industrial corporations have marginalized and further displaced small holder producers, who lost their access to and control over productive resources and assets.

National and regional policies, particularly in financing and trade, have reinforced these failures and continuing food insecurity in many countries.

We welcome socially responsible private investments in agribusiness with the condition that they are benign and equitable and work for the betterment of the small scale farmers. We are totally opposed to business models that are exploitative and result in the marginalization and displacement of the small scale rural sectors.

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Day 1 Updates: CSO Side Event

Civil society organizations convene today to deliberate on concrete proposals for the promotion of responsible investments in agriculture to address world hunger, by ensuring that the smallholders who are food producers do not themselves experience hunger and undernourishment by enabling them to become active, viable, empowered partners of governments, donors, international communities, and various other sectors, through responsible and responsive rural investments.

More than 60 delegates from CSO and people’s organizations from Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, India, China, India, Tonga, Pakistan, Taiwan and the Philippines are attending the meeting from July 5 to 6 in Crowne Hotel, Ortigas, Pasig City Philippines.  Entitled “Investment for Whom or What?,” the meeting is a CSO side event to organize their meaningful engagement at the joint ADB/FAO/IFAD Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific which will be held in Manila from July 7 to 9.

The forum opened with the sectors briefly presenting their situations as food producers to properly situate the two-day discussions. The sectors expressed hope and openness to the possibility of real changes that could happen in the countryside as a result of a more engaged dialogue with ADB/FAO/IFAD on rural investments.

The co-organizers affirmed the same optimism in their opening messages. Katsuji Matsunami, ADB’s Advisor for Agriculture, Food Security, and Rural Development, hoped that “this is going to be the platform for all of us to look at some possible framework, for addressing the task at hand in a multipronged manner.” The same message is reiterated by Thomas Price, chief of the FAO Partnership Branch, and by IFAD’s Country Manager for the Philippines, Sana Jatta.

The first session consisted of thematic plenary presentations on the following: (1) Enhancing Productivity, (2) Building Resilience Against Vulnerability, (3) Innovative Financing; and (4) Connectivity Solutions from the Private Sector Food Security through Regional Cooperation.

Jacqueline Haessiq-Alleje of IFOAM, presenter for the theme “Enhancing Productivity,” stressed the imperative of a paradigm shift to organic agriculture as “the only way to solve the growing problem of hunger in developing countries. She cited studies that confirm how the world can be adequately and sustainably fed, and ecologically regenerated, through organic agriculture. She further commented on ADB’s Operational Plan for Sustainable Food Security and put forward proposals which include, among others, encouraging policies that call for a shift in public spending for chemical agricultural research in favor of organic production research.

On Innovative Financing, Afab Khan of the Action Aid explained that in order to reverse the dire situation of small agricultural producers and bring the region closer to reducing the number of poor people, 10% of national budgets should be allocated to smallholder agriculture.  Khan added these investments should go to the improvement of land ownership, access to water and other natural resources of small farmers and fishers, agricultural research and development to upscale farmers’ pilot projects, and the promotion of ecologically-sound  farming and fishing systems.

Elpidio Peria of TWN, panel presenter for “Natural Resources Management” observed that natural resources is nowhere in the priorities or core areas of operation of ADB’s Long Term Strategy (2009-2020) or Strategy 2020. He said ADB has categorized agriculture under “Other Areas of Operation.” In 2009, ADB allotted only 7 loans totaling to a measly $443M, which is “a dismal failure” considering that ADB targeted to increase its lending for agriculture and rural development to more than US $2 B.  He proposed to put Farmers Rights at the center of NRM projects and investments, which is based on Art. 9 of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources on Food and Agriculture of the FAO, and from the UN Human Rights instruments which includes the Right to Food.

The presenter on “Building Resilience Against Vulnerability,” Souly Quackchangkham of AFA highlighted climate change as the situation that has caused the most vulnerability to food-producing sectors who live close to nature for their survival. She noted that it is the energy and chemical intensive agriculture that accounts for the huge GHG emission, primarily as a result of overuse of fertilizers, land clearance, soil degradation and intensive animal farming. She discussed proposals on investment to build resilience,  which includes, among others, community-based reforestation programs, and upscaling of sustainable agri/aquaculture systems done and managed by and with small scale women and men farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples.

Before the morning session ended, the delegates convened into workshop groups following the four themes and proceeded to a working lunch to analyze ADB’s existing investment policies and projects and propose concrete investment policies and projects to advocate for adoption by the Bank.


Opening statements: Farmers Sector

Opening Statements from Oun Soupal, Asian Farmers Association (AFA), Cambodia


About the CSO Side Event of the Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific


The two-day preparatory CSO meeting aims to organize the meaningful engagement of CSOs at the joint ADB/FAO/IFAD Investment Forum for Food Security in Asia and the Pacific (Manila, 7 to 9 July 2010). It is an important follow-through activity of the Ad Hoc Committee organized last February 24-25, 2010 in Manila during the Regional Consultation on Food Security in Asia and the Pacific Region sponsored by FAO and co-hosted by AsiaDHRRA. The said consultation brought together various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representing regional formations of rural sectors – namely, farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, women, youth, cooperative, NGOs, and INGOs to review and agree on thematic priorities affecting food security in the region and respond to the need to broaden and strengthen ranks among them towards a stronger movement for responding to hunger and poverty among the marginalized sectors. The CSOs  decided to form the regional Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) to anchor the planning process focusing on agreed regional priorities for the next two years, and accordingly craft a concrete plan of action that considers upcoming major regional events such as the Investment Conference on Food Security in Manila on July, the 30th FAO-APRC Meeting in Korea in September, and other processes including the reform process of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, 12 to 16 October 2010.

The Investment Forum on Food Security is an important event for various regional platforms and initiatives where the voices of the grassroots particularly the small-scale producers, indigenous peoples, fishers, rural women and youth can be heard by intergovernmental bodies like ADB, FAO and IFAD whose investment policies and programs greatly affect the lives of rural people.   It is imperative that  the perspectives of the rural sectors, based on learnings and insights from the banks' programs and policies, are factored in the new strategies for advancing food security at the national, regional and global levels. 

An event planned for by the AHC, its members recognize the funding support received from the USAID, ADB, FAO and IFAD.

Objectives Outputs Outcomes

Specifically, the CSO Meeting aims to achieve the following:
  1. CSOs  have better understanding of the existing policy frameworks and thrust of ADB, IFAD, and FAO on investment in food security in aid of their various policy advocacy roles in the region.
  2. Common CSO agenda identified and concrete investment policy proposals and program recommendations developed relative to the Investment Forum for Food Security
  3. Firmed up Asia-Pacific regional CSO medium-term agenda in relation to engaging various regional and international intergovernmental bodies working on food security/food sovereignty and sustainable rural development
  4. Improved coordination among regional CSO partnership mechanisms especially in relation to upcoming key regional and international events beyond the Investment Forum, e.g. 30th FAO APRC in the Republic of Korea and CFS  processes in Rome.
The expected outputs of the CSO preparatory meeting are as follows:
  1. Analysis of ADB/FAO/IFAD principles and investment thrust on food security 
  2. Common CSO statement highlighting the views and recommendations of CSOs, especially of the grassroots sectors,  on Investments for Food Security
  3. Concrete policies proposals and project investment calls responsive to the needs of  most vulnerable and affected sectors
  4. Finalized medium term CSO agenda for food and agricultural governance in the region
  5. Clear plan of action for CSO participation during the 30th APRC in Korea in September 2010
It is envisioned that the 2-day preparatory meeting will inspire and lead to a more effective policy engagement during the Investment Forum resulting from improved analysis by the CSOs' of ADB/FAO/IFAD principles and investment thrusts on food security, manifested by their coherent proposals for policy reforms and specific concrete calls for investment on food security in Asia and Pacific region. 

A collective voice among CSOs will also signal the seriousness of the sector to make ADB, IFAD, and FAO and their development partners more accountable of their policies and programming towards the agenda of a food secure region and reduced poverty in the rural areas.

III. Participants and Organizers

The participants of the CSO Side Event include the members of the regional Ad Hoc Committee and the Korean CSO Working Committee for the FAO-APRC, the IFAD Medium Term Cooperation Programme Steering Committee Members from China and the Southeast, and CSOs from the region who registered for the Investment Forum. 

A volunteer working group from among the AHC members supports the preparation of the program design and content.  A Steering Committee from among the participants shall be created to help direct the CSO side event proper and to prepare the final conclusion and statement from the meeting which will be presented during the Investment Forum.  AsiaDHRRA, as AHC focal point, provides the secretariat and coordination support to the event and coordinates with FAO who acts as CSO liaison for the Investment Forum organizers.

Download the program here....


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