Asia

Date of publication
October 2008
Geographical focus

Our unsustainable way of life is causing a crisis in our environment at a global scale. Climate change is threatening the future of our planet. The crisis is largely our own doing, and we also have the means to solve it, if we are willing to act on it. Farmers, fishers, and indigenous peoples, who live close to nature for their survival, are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. But they also have a special role to play in addressing climate change. What they need for survival - sustainable and ecological friendly practices - are also what are needed to heal our planet.

Date of publication
August 2009
Geographical focus

This issue paper is about what is known as the “global financial crisis,” which is said to have affected the economies in Europe and North America and caused massive loss of jobs and bankruptcy in these countries. For some of us here in the developing world, the global financial crisis may seem very far from us and therefore, has no effect on us. We may even think that it is something that only concerns economists and the business sector. But we will learn in this paper that the global financial crisis actually affected and even worsened the situation of people and communities in developing countries, including small-scale women and men farmers.

This issue paper explains what “global financial crisis” means, what it is all about and how it started. It will then discuss the effects of the financial crisis on farmers and what civil society organizations can do to support farmers. It also points out what government can do to lessen the impact of the financial crisis on small-scale men and women farmers. Finally, it presents civil society's recommendations to effectively address the impact of the global financial crisis on the vulnerable sectors in the ASEAN region

Date of publication
September 2009
Geographical focus

WHAT IS MEANT BY AGRIBUSINESS?

Agribusiness as used in this paper refers to very big corporations that produce, process, trade, and market agricultural food products and agricultural inputs. Examples are corporations that produce inputs, such as seeds and fertilizers, and those that produce for supermarkets and retail chains. Transnational agribusiness companies are those that operate in the agriculture sector of many countries, usually with a huge volume of business.

Small-scale or family-based subsistence farms that produce mainly for the needs of the household are not agribusinesses, but they are part of the agricultural private sector since they are not public or government enterprises.

Date of publication
October 2009

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been trying hard to go into free trade agreements (FTAs) with different countries. It believes that this will increase trade and help members sell their export products to more markets in other countries. It also wants to make ASEAN the world's center of agricultural production. But in opening up markets and increasing trade, more imported goods from other countries can also come in.

These FTAs were supposed to be good for farmers, but actually, farmers have not been benefitting from these opportunities. From the experience of some countries, farmers benefit from FTAs only if they can compete in the international market and if they own land and other resources for production so that they can have the power to decide on what to plant on the land and how to use the resources.

Policies like FTAs have big impacts on farmers and agriculture, so it is important that farmers are able to voice their concerns and suggest ways to protect their sector and make sure that agriculture is developing.

This issue paper presents a regional trade agenda agreed on by several farmers' organizations from the ASEAN region. This trade agenda includes recommendations that will help make small farmers more competitive. It also suggests ways of ensuring that farmers and the agricultural sector are protected from the harmful effects of opening up markets to international trade.

The farmers proposed policies and programs that will make sure that poor families have food on their tables and have reliable sources of income. They also suggested ways of achieving rural development and helping solve poverty in their countries.

This paper also describes the situation of farmers and the agricultural sector in the region, focusing on five ASEAN countries -- Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Date of publication
December 2009
Geographical focus

The issue of climate change was already being discussed in the 1980s as scientists raised alarm over the world's increasing emission of manmade green house gases (GHGs), the main cause of global warming. In 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), began to look into the effects of manmade GHG emissions on climate change. Following the release of the IPCC findings in 1990, the United Nations initiated the process of convening countries with the goal of reducing man-made GHG emissions and helping countries adapt to climate change. It was not until two years later, in May 1992, that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1 (UNFCCC) was launched. The UNFCCC is an international treaty, and was opened for signature in the same year. It entered into force in March 1994, and is presently signed by 192 countries.

Countries that signed the UNFCCC committed to develop and implement strategies to reduce GHG emissions, as well as to adapt to climate change. They agreed to establish and regularly share updated information on national GHG inventories as a way of monitoring over-all GHG emissions and monitoring the progress of the UNFCCC. The Convention also recognizes that climate change is already happening and that there is a need to help those who are affected by it, especially the developing countries. At the same time, it requires developed countries to provide financial and technological resources to help developing countries fulfill their commitment under the Convention.

In the main, parties to the Convention agreed to cooperate on climate change mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation refers to actions and interventions that reduce man-made GHG emissions while adaptation focuses on helping people and communities cope with the adverse effects of climate change.

Date of publication
November 2011
Geographical focus

In 2008, Ka Lita, a woman rice farmer in the Philippines, stood in a long line to buy rice that was being sold by the National Food Authority (NFA), the government’s rice trading agency. She had been standing under the hot sun for several hours, but she had no choice but to wait for her turn to buy rice from the NFA. The rice being sold by the government’s rice trading agency was the only rice that she could afford with her money. A few months earlier, Ka Lita sold her family’s harvest of paddy to a trader at a very low price, but the price of milled rice in the market had increased by at least two times since then. If she buys from rice retailers, she will not have enough to feed her family.

In many countries in Asia and the world, farmers were experiencing the same problem. Rice farmers and their families, like millions of poor people across the globe, faced hunger as the price of rice – a commodity which they produce – went up unexpectedly.

The sudden and unexpected increase in food prices in 2008 sent many people to hunger. It signaled to governments around the world that they have to find immediate and long-term solutions to food price volatility.

Food price volatility is the term used to refer to changes in the prices of food items that are so sudden and unexpected that governments are not able to immediately do anything to help people, especially the poor, cope with this problem.

In this issue paper, we will look at the reasons why food price volatility happens. We will also look at the work undertaken by farmers’ groups, governments and other international institutions like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to address this. Finally, we will look at possible solutions to this problem.

Date of publication
December 2011
Geographical focus

 All over Asia, small women and men farmers are experiencing extreme and intense weather events brought about by climate change. Almost all of them are caught unprepared by changing climate patterns: rains are heavier, storms and floods occur more often, dry seasons are more intense and last longer. They do not understand why this is happening. All they know is that they have to find a way to adapt to and survive these changes.

In this issue paper, we will look at how farmers are adapting, and can better adapt, to the negative impacts of climate change. We will look at the resources, including climate finance, and policies necessary to help poor farmers and communities cope with changing climate patterns.

Many of the discussions on climate adaptation are happening in countries where governments are formulating and preparing for the implementation of their respective national adaptation plans. At the global level, discussions on climate finance and adaptation take place in the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC). This issue paper will provide an overview of developments related to climate adaptation and climate finance both at the national and international levels. 

Date of publication
March 2012
Geographical focus

“Large scale land investments” and “land grabbing” are the terms most commonly used to describe the rising global trend where foreign and local agribusinesses, mining corporations, governments, and investment houses obtain long term rights over large areas of land. Perhaps the most famous of these is the attempt by the Daewoo Group of South Korea to lease 1.3 million hectares, or more than half of the productive agricultural lands of Madagascar, in Africa. The fact that the deal covered lands being cultivated by smallholder farmers as well as bio-diversity rich forests led to massive peasant protests which ultimately led to the overthrow of the regime which signed it. The succeeding government predictably cancelled the agreement.

While the two terms basically refer to the same phenomenon, the two vary in their connotation. “Land grabbing” is the more political term often used by activists and more militant groups to describe and oppose these land deals, while “large scale land investments” is obviously a more neutral term preferred by mainstream international development institutions like the World Bank (WB) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), governments and investors to describe and promote these land deals (Borras and Franco, 2012).

Date of publication
February 2014
Geographical focus

As opposed to agribusiness or corporate farming, FAO defined family farming as “a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family, both female and male. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, reproductive, social and cultural functions. A family farm is an agricultural landholding which is managed and operated by a household and where farm labor is largely supplied by that household.”(FAO, 2013) In the context of most Asian countries, family farmers are smallholders, small scale food producers - farmers, fishers, pastoralists and herders and gatherers of forest resources. 

In Asia and the Pacific, family farms dominate the landscape. It is home to 60 % of the world’s population and to 70% of the world’s family farmers. About 40% and 90% of farmers in each country in Asia and Pacific are small scale food producers, farmers, fishers and herders. Family farmers produce 80 % of the total food needed to ensure food security of the region (RAP report, 2013).

The higher productivity of family farms are normally due to higher use of labor and other family-owned inputs, and a generally higher index of cropping intensity and diversification even with smaller capital. Experience has shown that Asian countries such as India that promoted small family farms were able to launch the Green Revolution. Countries like China started supporting smallholder farming after collective farms could not provide adequate incentives to increase production and productivity. The inverse relationship between farms size and productivity is a powerful rationale for land reform policies, including land redistribution for both efficiency and equity gains.

However, family farmers are faced with many challenges that threaten their very existence worldwide. The profitability and over-all viability of agriculture, forestry and fisheries production has always been subject to the vagaries of weather, social, political, technical, and economic factors, but the years of non-prioritization of the sector led to it being more vulnerable when the 2008 worldwide food, financial and energy crisis happened. The persistence of hunger and malnutrition in Asia, especially among family farmers, is largely due to the fact that poverty is basically a rural problem in the region.(Balakrishnan, 2013) 

Date of publication
June 2015

Youth is often the time when a person starts to dream of the future, think of the path to take and boldly and aggressively set his/her life in motion. In many rural villages, to be a farmer is not part of this dreamt future . Farming is a lowly job and does not earn, so better migrate to cities or abroad where there may be more opportunities and adventure. What will then be the future of agriculture and food without young farmers? No farmer, no food. No food, no life.

In this issue paper, we will discuss why young people are not attracted to agriculture, what are the initiatives being taken to encourage the youth to be in agriculture, and what are the recommendations for the youth to stay in it. The discussions here is a consolidation of (a) the results of the national consultations and participatory researches conducted by AFA members in 9 countries involving around 660 rural youth on the issue “attracting the youth to agriculture” using the Farmers Advocacy Consultation Tool (FACT) developed by Agriterra; (b) the results of the regional consultation involving 30 men and 10 women representatives, from 17 national farmer organizations in 13 countries held last May 2014 and (c) desk research and literature review. AFA conducted these consultations during the celebration of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), since youth in agriculture is one of its IYFF priority issues.

Translations: Indonesia | Mongolia | Philippines | Bangladesh | Japan | Kyrgyztan | Thailand | Taiwan | Vietnam | Cambodia | Nepal | Myanmar

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