Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

on

Service Supply Chain for Regional Food Security

delivered at the

NECTEC Annual Conference
Bangkok Convention Center, Central Lad-pro, Bangkok
15 September 2011

 

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentleman

Firstly, I wish to thank the organizers for inviting my contribution to this forum. It is a great pleasure for me to address you today on the subject of Service Supply Chains for Regional Food Security.
 
This morning, I was notified the loss of the father of Mr Pisuth Paiboonrat, NECTEC Specialist. I wish to express my deepest condolences to him who is not here at this Conference.

The World Food Summit in 1996 and the Millennium Development Goal 1 have set objectives for reducing the number and proportion of undernourished population by half by 2015. The World Food Summit (five years later) in 2002 and the most recent Comprehensive Framework for Action on the Global Food Security Crisis in 2008 have all reiterated efforts and actions for combating one of the world's most important problems of hunger.

FAO is the leading organization for the global monitoring of the MDG 1.6 hunger indicator and has been deeply involved in the global efforts to reduce the number and proportion of undernourished population.

FAO is involved in many initiatives and programmes to identify and reduce food insecurity throughout the world. Through our Regional Office in Bangkok we are addressing this situation in Asia. The Global Strategy to Improve Agricultural and Rural Statistics and the joint FAO and WFP Corporate Strategies on Information Systems for Food Security are two recent initiatives aimed at providing global food security information products and services and strengthening national agricultural statistical systems to respond to data requests driven by needs and requests of stakeholders.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Food security as defined by the World Food Summit and re-endorsed by the World Food Summit- 5 years later, is a situation when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient and nutritious food for a healthy and active lifestyle. This definition emphasizes the multidimensional nature of food security including availability, stability, access, and utilisation of food. Achieving food security necessitates that the availability of physical supplies of food is sufficient, that households have adequate access to those food supplies through their own production, through the market or through other sources, and that the utilization of those food supplies is appropriate to meet the specific dietary needs of individuals.

Key factors that threaten food security in the region include:

  • The use of raw materials as feedstock for energy production
  • Climate change
  • Land and environmental constraints
  • Pre- and Post-harvest losses
  • Food safety issues, and 
  • Human resource capacity

I will now address these individually:
 
Increasing of the use of land between foor crops and bio-energy crops, globally, 1 % of the world’s arable land is used for biofuel production, and this is expected to increase to 2.5- 3.8 % by 2030 and to 20 % by 2050. In some countries across the region, we already see that the spread of contract farming and plantations of fuel crops is beginning to compete for agricultural land for crop production. Appropriate policies and strategies must, therefore, be put in to ensure that bio-fuel production does not pose a threat to the region’s food security.
 
Climate Change is yet another factor that poses a major challenge to food security. Climate change is already negatively impacting on agricultural production. The negative effects include droughts, desertification, more frequent and serious storms, intense rainfall and floods. Unusual rains have drowned crops and carried away topsoil across the region. Increasing temperatures have enlarged the range of pests and crop diseases. The multi-year drought in the Australian wheat belt and persistent flooding in Bangladesh are two highly-visible agricultural crises attributed to climate change in the region. 

The diminishing resource base of land and water in the Region imposes serious constraints on productivity. Declining productivity growth is of major concern as productivity growth is indeed a critical factor in raising incomes and job opportunities for small farmers and in ensuring affordable and adequate food for poor and vulnerable groups

Post-harvest losses pose a major economic challenge and could threaten food security. Losses result largely from an inadequacy of infrastructure for storage and marketing, inadequacy of processing facilities, poorly integrated supply chains and improper handling.

Unsafe food could also threaten the region’s food security by reducing income-generating capacity, reducing human productivity, trade opportunities as well as food availability, resulting in a net negative impact on access to food

Across the region and particularly in South East Asia, an increasing number of people are moving out of agriculture into the services sector.  The age of the agricultural worker continues to increase, with fewer young people going into agricultural production. At the same time, agricultural systems are becoming more knowledge driven, and it is not always easy to train older farmers, who tend to be set in their ways.

Mitigating and overcoming these food security threats, necessitates improvement of skills and capacities of small farmers to better cope with the changing economic and natural environment. Small farmers must be educated on how to manage their natural resources in a sustainable manner so as to enable them to become more reliable suppliers. 

This will necessitate that they move from a focus on production for home consumption and occasional marketing of surpluses toward adopting  a more commercial and business orientation where they have the capacity and skills to respond to the ever increasing demands of the market in order to retain viable livelihoods.  However, in order to operate their farms as modern business ventures it will be necessary to equip them with skills and competencies to adapt their farming systems, diversify production and respond to market change.

Services are vitally important in enhancing the supply capacities of small farmers and in strengthening their linkages to buyers.  FAO’s experience through project implementation across the globe has identified four major categories of Front Line Services required to enhance farmer supply capacity and linkage to markets.  These include

Business development services that include business planning, market information, contract negotiation, business linkaging, and information on agri-business trends.

Supply chain management services that include production scheduling, collection and sale sites, grading, certification, handling, quality control and logistics support.

Training to improve farm skills in quality management, packaging, labeling, food safety, and business planning, as well as

Technology introduction services such as the introduction of technologies such as drying, storage, seed production, post-harvest operations, size reduction technologies, and processing.

Other areas in which services are required include support for:

• collective marketing, business management, financial management, leadership, negotiation skills and linkages with research institutions for innovation.
value chain development through improved coordination of production, negotiation of contracts, brand development, linking producers to buyers as well as providing advice on legal, regulatory and certification issues
the formation of producer organizations, clusters, networks and linkages among different actors along value chains
 
Investment in physical infrastructure such as roads, collection points, and markets is also a necessary support facility.

Information – when customized and provided by appropriate institutions – is one of the services in highest demand by farmers and rural entrepreneurs. Information services include market information and information on market linkages, including the selection of market outlets and potential business partners. Other forms of information exchange at the level of the farm community include study tours, the establishment of forums for dialogue, exchange and the development of information flows among farmers. Information is also needed to assist farmers to diagnose the performance of their farms, to set objectives, to plan, implement and control farm activities and to make more efficient use of their limited resources. Information can have a direct impact on improved farm management, providing extension workers and farmers with information on what, how and when products are produced, and what type and quantity of inputs should be used. The better skilled they are at using data and information the better their farm decisions will be.

Information and communication technology (ICT) plays a key role in reducing the costs of information management for small holder farmers and producers. Without appropriate information management, small holder farmers are disadvantaged by not being able to efficiently record required information and participate in higher value, organized markets.

FAO’s interventions and capacity building efforts in member countries across the region are targeted toward enhancing small farmer capacities to be reliable suppliers in supply chains and in helping them to increase their value added through capacity building in post-harvest management, processing and through intermediation with business service providers, governments and the private sector. 

In closing, I would like to wish you all fruitful deliberations and a productive outcome to this meeting.

Thank you