PBBM cites need for ASEAN-Plus Three to ensure food security

September 6, 2023, 10:31 pm

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Wednesday emphasized the need for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and its partners in East Asia to strengthen regional food security mechanisms along with other measures to meet regional challenges.

“To move the APT (ASEAN-Plus Three) onwards and forward – in both the strategic and economic arenas – we must stay united, take adversity in stride, and work together to focus on strengthening food security, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and developing the digital domain to encompass all levels of society in our countries to ensure connectivity and other cross-cutting issues,” President Marcos said in his intervention during the 26th ASEAN-Plus Three Summit at Jakarta Convention Center.

“With the future in mind, we will tighten collaboration with each other and focus on the sustainable development of our region,” he added.

The ASEAN-Plus Three consists of the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam), China, Japan, and South Korea.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, also acting as the coordinator of the Plus Three countries, were present in the Summit and each expressed their full support for and cooperation with the ASEAN.

To ensure food security, President Marcos said regional mechanisms must be strengthened, as well as increase the emergency rice supply of the APT through the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR).

He reiterated the proposal for APT Cooperation to consider diversifying APTERR by adding other commodities and staple foods to rice to strengthen food security, poverty alleviation, and eradication of hunger and malnutrition among ASEAN member countries.

“We need to mainstream sustainable agricultural and food production systems that enable us to meet the demand for food without compromising the well-being of our natural environment,” Marcos said, suggesting that continued development and implementation of policies will enable the shift to sustainable agriculture and fishery practices.

“Let us forge strong partnerships with key stakeholders in the private sector, strengthen food security and self-sufficiency by upgrading and expanding the agricultural sector through investments on infrastructures, and support farmers and fisherfolks,” he added.

Other measures to meet regional challenges include closing the digital divide and unleashing the potential of the digital economy, and encouraging the transition to a circular economy.

The increasing importance of the digital domain in all the economies will fast track the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as nano businesses, he said.

In transitioning to a circular economy, APT collaboration must give rise to game-changing innovation towards a more sustainable economic model where progress and prosperity do not come at the cost of the health of the planet, he added. (PND/PNA)