Grow Asia Reaches New Landmark

Friday, June 3rd, 2016 | 732 Views

Established by the World Economic Forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, the platform has enabled almost half a million smallholder farmers to gain access to investment and training across Southeast Asia.

Grow Asia is an initiative which facilitates multi-stakeholder collaboration for the benefit of smallholder farmers of five ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam) that was launched in 2015. Locally led, works with farmer organisations to pilot digital solutions, explore financial innovation and institutionalise country partnerships.

The goal of Grow Asia by 2020 is to reach 10 million smallholder farmers in the five ASEAN countries to improve farm productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability by 20 percent.

Since its launch in 2015, Grow Asia has supported country-level partnerships in Vietnam, Indonesia and Myanmar, and launched new partnerships in the Philippines and Cambodia. In the past year, 34 new value chain initiatives were launched across all five countries. The platform now engages over 260 partners, an increase from 194 in 2015. The number of smallholder farmers reached rose fivefold to 471,200.

Additionally, the Grow Asia Secretariat was established in Singapore to accelerate innovation and the sharing of best practice via a broad regional network. These achievements were reported in platform’s first Report on Progress, launched at the 2016 Grow Asia Forum which took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in early June.

“Agriculture is a priority sector for Cambodia and its development will determine progress to prosperity. We are delighted that Grow Asia has supported us to launch the Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture and is helping to convene partners to work with us in meeting farmer needs for access to markets, knowledge, technology and finance. We are committed to playing our part in making this partnership a success,” noted Hun Sen, prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

“Grow Asia’s ability to bring together various stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem is commendable. And the result is proven by its many achievements in countries that it has a footprint. Farmers’ income is increased, yields are boosted and at the same time environmental sustainability is ensured. My deepest congratulations to Grow Asia,” said Malaysian minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry, Ahmad Shabery Bin Cheek, during the Opening Plenary.

“Our progress to date demonstrates the effectiveness of Grow Asia’s unique multi-stakeholder model in bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders to collaborate and drive action on the ground to improve smallholder farming. The commitment of high-level leaders to collective action empowers farmers and instigates innovation and economic prosperity, making a significant contribution to national and regional food security,” said Kavita Prakash-Mani, executive director, Grow Asia.

At the Grow Asia Forum 2016, leaders discussed future plans to scale up the five countries’ partnerships. Priority areas for future development include the need to scale innovative financing approaches for smallholder farmers and piloting an open-source digital platform to link farmers with partners and service providers directly.

Sascha Israel, head of Crop Science Asia Pacific, Bayer, commented: “With the agricultural industry facing tremendous changes amidst a tough market environment, industry players from both the public and private sectors must collaborate to explore and pilot innovative solutions, including mobile technology and inclusive financing options, to enable farmers to improve their yields and incomes by being connected to the value chain.”

Remarking on the benefits of working with Grow Asia for companies, Biswaranjan Sen, vice president, Global Procurement, Unilever, noted: “We believe there is an urgent need for companies to collaborate with governments and civil society to co-create solutions to address the social and environmental challenges confronting the world today. Grow Asia provides a unique platform to collaborate in a pre-competitive framework to design inclusive solutions that enable sustainable economic growth for small holder farmers.”

Adi Pramudyo, a young farmer from Indonesia who participated in the forum, said: “Grow Asia stands apart in its efforts to put the farmer at the heart of the solutions it seeks to find through partnerships. Greater empowerment, innovation and economic prosperity will attract the next generation of farmers and help sustain agriculture.”