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Food for All: Investing in Food Security in Asia and the Pacific—Issues, Innovations, and Practices

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Introduction

“Food security is a huge challenge. No single entity can address the issue. You have to connect all the dots. To me, that is the key, because knowledge dissemination, application on the ground, and faster delivery—all these will require all stakeholders to come together.”

A participant in the first Asia- and Pacific-wide Investment Forum on Food Security summed it up well. This book seeks to connect the dots that make up the issue of food security by providing a compilation of knowledge, good practices, innovations, and lessons. All drawn from the forum, it weaves these together to enlarge understanding of the issues involved and to share the rich output of the forum with a broader audience.

The book presents the highlights of the proceedings of the three-day Investment Forum (Appendix). Each chapter closely corresponds to a session of the forum where presentations and interactive discussions took place. Some presentations have been shortened or condensed due to space considerations.

Introductions to several chapters acknowledge specific entities (e.g., FAO, IFAD, The Asia Foundation, USAID, ADB units) that were pivotal in organizing and providing support for particular sessions that parallel the content of these chapters.

As with the forum sessions, the chapters flow from one into the other. Taking off from the objectives of the forum, multisector response and innovative partnerships are key themes addressed in the opening chapters to overcome food security challenges in the region.

Another key theme links individual country plans under the common goal of making food security the underlying element of inclusive and sustainable growth. The forum focused initially on four countries and one subregion that are representative of the different areas of Asia and the Pacific and have existing policy, institutional, and strategic frameworks that readily support upscaling of food security investments in partnership with international organizations (ADB, FAO, IFAD, etc.), the private sector, and others. These are Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of China, India, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the Pacific subregion, which are featured in Chapter 3.

Fostering food security through regional cooperation is a clear thread that runs through the book. This is particularly highlighted in the discussion of noted development economist C. Peter Timmer about the role of rice in Asian economies and the collective actions that can be explored to stabilize rice prices as a “public good.”

The range of food security issues is varied and complex and respected scientists, technical experts, and hands-on managers guide us through the maze with presentations that not only inform but inspire. The articles spotlight innovations and good practices—success stories for replication—as well as the necessary areas for reform and action.

In five succeeding chapters that mirror forum sessions, the book delves into the following thematic areas:

  • enhancing productivity investment, which spans food security research, information and communication technology, agriculture advisory services, irrigation and land use, high-yielding technologies, veterinary services, aquaculture management practices, and post-harvest management;

  • upscaling innovations and good practices in natural resource management, such as forest and coastal resource management, land/soil management, land use planning, and water resource management;

  • increasing investments for resilience, which include risk management, early warning systems, financing for climate proofing and climate change adaptation, weather index insurance, food fortification, and nutrition;

  • innovative financing for food security through credit, farmer access to finance, contract farming, and commodity exchange; and

  • enhancing connectivity investments for food security through rural infrastructure, market facilitation and value chain development, fostering rural small- and medium-sized enterprises and producer organizations, improving food safety and quality standards, and market information dissemination.

The participation of civil society organizations from across Asia and the Pacific enriched the forum’s output to reflect the actual needs and interests of the grassroots sectors. In a manifesto, they expressed hope and openness to the possibility of real changes that could happen in the countryside as a result of a more engaged partnership with development agencies on rural investments.

The forum culminated with the signing of the Asia and the Pacific Regional Food Security Partnership Framework by the three major organizers—ADB, FAO, and IFAD. This partnership document is published here in full.

The publication of this book was a collective effort under the supervision of ADB lead agriculture specialist Lourdes Adriano, with the invaluable editorial assistance of Fides Lim, Ma. Lourdes Ronquillo, Amelia Esteban, Stephen Banta, and Jill Gale de Villa, and the logistics support of Rhea Juliano and Bernadette Agustin.

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