Strengthening China-ASEAN cooperation for food security and sustainability

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Dr. Kevin Chen, a Senior Research Fellow in the Development Strategies and Governance Unit of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), was invited to give a keynote speech at the 7th ASEAN-China Agricultural Cooperation Forum in Nanning City, Guangxi, the People’s Republic of China (P.R. China) on September 16, 2023. The event was co-hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) of P.R. China and the People’s Government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Titled “The Road to Resilience in East and Southeast Asia”, Dr. Chen’s keynote speech shared insights and suggestions for enhancing the resilience of the agricultural sector in East and Southeast Asia. He highlighted the intensified food insecurity in the ASEAN region since 2020, emphasizing that integration is a crucial solution to address challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and economic uncertainties. Dr. Chen underscored the complementarity of China and ASEAN as each other’s largest agricultural export markets, advocating for mutually beneficial cooperation through strengthened partnerships.

Dr. Chen also gave a brief introduction of the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food and Nutrition Security Regional Program. This regional project consists of eight intervention packages, of which Intervention Package 4 on Enhancing Value Chains and Regional Trade, will be conducted by the East and Central Asia office of IFPRI in collaboration with the IFPRI-ZJU Joint Center. Both parties will collaborate with various stakeholders and target ASEAN member states to implement the regional plan over the next five years with a goal of transforming the food system to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 in relevant countries.

H.E. Tang Renjian, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, led the opening ceremony of the event and delivered a speech on China–ASEAN agricultural relations, saying that since President Xi Jinping proposed building a closer China–ASEAN community with a shared future in 2013, China and ASEAN countries have been deeply engaged in agricultural cooperation, which has become a new growth area for China-ASEAN economic and trade cooperation. In 2023, which coincides with the “ASEAN–China Year of Agricultural Development and Food Security Cooperation,” the two sides have deepened their S&T cooperation, successfully implemented a number of agricultural technology demonstration projects, strengthened personnel exchanges and enhanced the level of friendship and mutual trust, and witnessed a rapid growth in agro-product trade.

Themed “Deepening agricultural cooperation, creating new growth poles, and opportunities, challenges and responses for China-ASEAN agricultural development in the post-epidemic era,” a forum was included in the program, focusing on green agricultural development, regional food security, poverty reduction, rural revitalization, and smart agriculture. The dialogue aimed to build consensus, yield results, and bring benefits to the people of all participating countries.

Key figures from the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, as well as representatives from IFPRI and the Secretariat of the ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea Rice Emergency Reserve Mechanism, delivered keynote speeches.

More than 180 people participated in the event, including ministers of agriculture and diplomatic envoys of some ASEAN countries, representatives of international organizations, officials from Chinese agricultural departments, experts and scholars, and company representatives.

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