October 17, 2023


ASEAN and CGIAR launch joint programme on accelerating innovation in agri-food systems




The ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food and Nutrition Security Regional Program was officially launched during the 45th Meeting of the ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 4.


The programme aims to scale up and scale out integrated innovations in order to enhance the resilience of ASEAN nations' agri-food systems to climate change.


"Over the next 10 years, the programme envisions delivering better livelihoods for food producers and stakeholders, while ensuring affordable, nutritious and healthy food for consumers," said ASEAN-CGIAR regional programme director Dr. Jongsoo Shin. "Additionally, it seeks to foster a healthier natural environment for all."


CGIAR has been working with the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN member states and a range of funding and other partners to develop this multi-year research and innovation programme.


ASEAN-CGIAR programme co-director Dr. Stephan Weise said: "…the programme aims to be bottom-up, cross and trans-disciplinary. It is being co-created and, therefore, is fully co-owned by ASEAN partners."


Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security of Malaysia, who is also the AMAF chair, extended his gratitude to CGIAR for developing the Intervention Packages (IPs) that are in line with the nine thematic areas to address comprehensively, the needs of the country's food, land and water systems.


He stressed that the ASEAN-CGIAR Regional Program "underscores the dedication and commitment of (ASEAN member states) towards achieving a competitive, inclusive, resilient and sustainable food and agriculture sector in our region."


Dr. Kao Kim Hourn, Secretary General of ASEAN, emphasised that the programme is "formulated to address the above-mentioned challenges by leveraging cutting-edge research, technology and innovation that enhance the resilience of the agricultural system."


"With eight intervention packages, the programme will catalyse transformative change, enabling us to adapt to the evolving needs of our region, particularly with the impact of climate change," Dr. Hourn added.


Under the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food Regional Program, the following eight IPs were developed:


    - Regenerative agriculture/aquaculture practices and judicious agrochemical use;


    - Climate neutrality and circular agriculture;

    - Enhancing ASEAN agrobiodiversity use and landscape biodiversity;


    - Enhancing value chains and regional trade;


    - Transboundary pests and diseases;


    - Private sector investment and sustainable financing;


    - Farmer-led irrigation for climate-resilient agri-food systems;

    - Food systems transformation for more nutritious and healthy diets.


Dr. Ajay Kohli, director general of IRRI and senior leadership team member of CGIAR, shared that the programme, which can be a model on how to cater to client's needs, is "not just about creating technologies, but using the policies and taking them to the farmers and industries, and making a difference and empower man's life."


Representatives from the funding partners expressed statements of support for the programme.


Will Nankervis, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, said: "The programme will serve as a catalyst for even deeper collaboration to promote food security in the region". He shared that Australia had contributed an additional A$1 million (US$635,488) bringing its total contribution to the programme to over A$3 million (US$1.9 million).


Dr. Daniel Walker, chief scientist of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, shared that the programme will be a platform to strengthen Australia's partnership with ASEAN and CGIAR.


The programme's launch, which was attended by high-level officials from ASEAN member states and CGIAR experts was a celebratory event marking a significant milestone in the programme. The event also acknowledged the promise of scaling up innovative solutions for positive transformation across ASEAN's agri-food systems, benefiting various stakeholders.


Prior to the launch, stakeholders from ASEAN member states and CGIAR Centres convened in the morning for a programme planning meeting. The event provided a platform for comprehensive discussions on the progress made by the IPs in the kick-off phase within the ASEAN-CGIAR collaboration.


Participants discussed the details of each IP, including objectives, strategies, expected impact, challenges and collaboration aspects.