The 43rd ASEAN Food Security Reserve Board (AFSRB) meeting recently hosted by Indonesia, discussed food security as one of the key concerns of Southeast Asian countries since the world is facing the threat of a global food crisis due to climate change, the El Nino phenomenon, and ongoing geopolitical conflicts.
The AFSRB meeting was attended by representatives of all ASEAN member countries, the ASEAN Secretariat, the AFSRB Secretariat, the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) Secretariat, and the ASEAN Food Security Information System (AFSIS) Secretariat.
One of the objectives to address food and nutrition security dynamics is by strengthening the commitment of ASEAN member countries by establishing an ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration regarding food security. It is expected this proposal will be endorsed by the leaders of ASEAN member countries at the 43rd ASEAN Summit scheduled to be held in Jakarta in September 2023.
It is also thought the document will encourage the establishment of a cooperation mechanism among various domestic institutions of ASEAN member countries in the agriculture, trade, finance, and transportation sectors to strengthen food security in the region. The cooperation mechanism also aims to bolster regional supply chains and sustainable farming.
Apart from the declaration, the meeting also brought attention to the recent food issues in each member country, so that problems can be addressed and solved through regional cooperation. Representatives of each Southeast Asian country would report on food commodity availability, and the forum would determine which and how much food resource should be reserved.
The ongoing effect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict for example has disrupted the global supply chain, resulting in an increase in food prices by up to 30%, and has also affected ASEAN member countries.
Speaking at the AFSRB meeting, the Head of Indonesia’s National Food Agency (NFA) Arief Prasetyo Adi said: “We have to take concrete action to address the potential global food crisis, including various other risks threatening the food system,” Therefore, it is important to ensure the stability, availability, accessibility, and wise utilisation of the food stocks in the region.
For its part, Indonesia’s NFA, a governmental institution responsible for maintaining food security in Indonesia, has developed a national food reserve and distribution system to anticipate the potential global food crisis.
The Indonesian agency collaborates with related ministries and institutions, State-owned Enterprises, universities, non-governmental organisations, agricultural and farmer associations, and the private sector as well as international stakeholders.