Food security robustness declines across Asia in 2015-2016

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  • Latest Rice Bowl Index report indicates a decline in food security robustness across Asia, a first since 2012
  • Empowering smallholders are key in helping the region achieve a robust food security position
  • Long term outlook remains positive but success will require collective action across the food value chain

The fifth edition of the Rice Bowl Index (RBI) report was issued in Singapore on Thursday. Highlighting changes in the food security landscape in Asia Pacific over the last twelve months, the RBI has seen a decline in food security robustness scores across the region – a stark contrast to the improvement observed in RBI results during 2014 and 2015.

Commenting on the findings of the latest report, RBI Advisory Board Member and Syngenta’s Head of Corporate Affairs for Asia Pacific, Andrew McConville said, “The challenge of food security is no less significant now than it was five years ago when the first RBI report was released. This year’s RBI results provide a warning that the region’s food security remains at risk.”

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“Food security issues across the region are complex and in order to address the challenges this represents, we must collectively address and tackle the issues adopting a multi-stakeholder, holistic value chain approach”, Mr McConville said.

Smallholder farmers

At the centre of this year’s report is the recommendation that collectively, there must be a greater focus on the needs of smallholder farmers.

Accessibility and inclusivity are key pillars in empowering smallholders to improving robustness but this can only be fully realized through collaboration across the value-chain. The aim of collaboration is to improve smallholder resilience and to create functioning markets with price transparency, information flow and communication, transportation and storage, finance, knowledge transfer and extension and equality.

“This year’s RBI report is focused on steps that can be taken to further empower smallholders. The Board sees opportunities for improvement through more efficient operation of the food value chain, improving nutrition security, supporting the introduction of better technology for smallholders and improving outcomes for women in agriculture,” Richard Leggett, RBI Advisory Board Member and CEO of Frontier Strategy Group elaborated.

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“Looking forward, despite short term down trends over the forecast period, the food security landscape for Asiaremains positive. We expect an increased focus on food safety, food waste and food quality that will drive demands from consumers for improvements in food value chain infrastructure like transport to markets, post-harvest storage and services, cold storage and improved processing, with a stronger commitment to also improving environmental outcomes.,” Mr Leggett added.

Launched in 2012, the Rice Bowl Index is a diagnostic tool and white paper that provides insight and information on the robustness of the food security system across Asia-Pacific. The Rice Bowl Index is designed to facilitate productive dialogue, collaboration and action between governments, NGOs and the private sector, moving from simply identifying problems to finding solutions.- PRNewswire

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