On World Food Day, advocates urge: Invest in local food systems

October 16 – As nations celebrate World Food Day, social enterprise advocates call on governments in ASEAN to invest in local food systems and enable the empowerment of small-scale producers who supply the bulk of the world’s food. 

“This year’s World Food Day theme, ‘Our Actions are Our Future,’ succinctly encapsulates our urgent call to ASEAN leaders to recognize our small-scale producers who supply the food on our tables,” said Dr. Marie Lisa Dacanay, President of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA). Dacanay was recognized as Social Innovation Thought Leader of the Year 2019 by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and the World Economic Forum for her visionary contributions to significantly improve the state of the world. 

Dacanay noted, “The pandemic exposed our vulnerability and over-dependence on global agri-food systems controlled by a few big corporations. With strict quarantine measures imposed by governments and global supply chains disrupted, COVID-19 threatened food security and livelihoods, especially for small-scale producers,” she explained. 

According to the United Nations, smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80% of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people. Yet, many gaps exist in policies that directly affect small-scale producers in agricultural value chains, who comprise a big part of the world’s poor.  

“ASEAN member states must adopt new guidelines that can provide an inclusive economic growth pathway that reduces poverty and hunger in the food, agriculture, and forestry sectors and accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals,” Dacanay explained.

ISEA is proposing a set of Transformational AVC Guidelines that address the gaps in enabling women and men small scale producers to become empowered stakeholders in agricultural value chains.  This is part of a regional initiative in partnership with Oxfam and supported by the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok on Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness Investments in South East Asia (GRAISEA), 

The Transformational AVC Guidelines will put in place innovative policies and programs as well as mobilize public investments to effectively enable the empowerment and build the resilience of small-scale producers. “We will be launching the Guidelines in November. As we celebrate World Food Day, we enjoin everyone to be in solidarity with small-scale producers who have really been responsible for feeding us before and during this pandemic,” Dacanay concluded. ###


Marie Lisa Dacanay

President, Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia

ldacanay@isea-group.net; +63 917 638 8361 (Viber enabled)