ASEAN member countries, agribusiness groups, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies have recently met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, to harness regional cooperation to ensure the active trading and easy accessibility of Asia’s main staple-rice.
The 2nd ASEAN Rice Trade Forum was convened by the ASEAN Food Security Reserve Board (AFSRB) in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Ngin Chhay, current chair of the AFSRB and director of the Department of Rice Crops of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Cambodia said the forum served as a platform to promote coherent and coordinated policies and investments affecting the regional rice market to advance food security in Southeast Asia.
Such thin trading makes the rice market susceptible to extreme price fluctuations, which was experienced during spiraling rice prices in 2007-2008, noted Lourdes Adriano, ADB lead agriculture specialist.
She thus stressed that the forum identified policy options to strengthen regional cooperation and supply chain investments for the sustained development of rice trade and food security. It also ensured better coordination of food policies by all ASEAN Member States through the timely exchange of accurate information and analysis of the rice market.
The AFSRB was created in 1979 to coordinate the ASEAN Food Security Reserve which stockpiles rice to secure the food needs of member states.
While the task of administering the emergency rice reserve was transferred in 2011 to the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve Council, the AFSRB has continued to coordinate the exchange of information on food and evaluate the food situation in ASEAN.
The AFSRB is composed of a representative from the agriculture, commerce or trade agency of each of the 10 ASEAN Member States — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.