Category Archives: Issue: Agriculture

AFA Vice Chairperson receives prestigious RTV award in Bangladesh

Ms. Shazada Begum, President of Kendrio Krishak Moitree (KKM) and Vice President of the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), has been been honored with the “RTV Alokito Nari 2017″ (Enlightened Woman) award.

This is one of the most prestigious awards in Bangladesh that honors change makers like Shazada.

The private satellite TV channel RTV honored eight enlightened women marking International Women’s Day 2017.

The programme was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre last March 9 and the title of the programme was “Joya Alokito Nari- 2017.”

In the eight categories, eight enlightened women received awards for their contribution and they are Professor Mahfuza Khanam (Education), Farida Parvin (Music), Shujata Azim (Acting, Film), Luna Samsuddin (IT), DIG Mili Biswas (Police), Shazada Begum (Agriculture),  Jubera Rahman Lini(Sports) and Sawkat Naznin Khan (Youth).

“RTV Alokito Nari” award has been going on since 2013 and this is first time they listed agriculture as one of the categories.

(With report and photos from ActionAid Bangladesh)

Mr. Nguyen Duy Luong, the First Vice – Chairman of VNFU met with Croplife Asia

thao_809609A(VNFU’s Website) – This afternoon (4th February), in Hanoi, the First Vice Chairman of VNFU Mr.Nguyen Duy Luong met and worked with the delegation from Croplife Asia headed by Ms. Thelma L. Soriano – Executive Director. Representatives from Today Countryside Newspaper, Administration Deparment and International Cooperation Department attended the Meeting.

At the meeting, Ms. Thelma expressed her desire to cooperate with VNFU in the widespread implementation of projects on planting genetically modified crops in Vietnam. Through the results of successful tested models, the project will disseminate among farmers to help them understand about the benefits of genetically modified crops compared with traditional crops.
The CropLife also suggested VNFU attending the Asian Farmers’ Exchange Program which will be held in Philippines. This is an exchange program for farmers in Asia to visit and learn experience about genetically modified crops which have been successfully piloted in the Philippines.
Ending the meeting, the Union agree to take part in the exchange visits.

By Thai Ha – Translator: Mai Huong

Vietnam Farmers’ Union – Kume Hiryo Company (Japan) Cooperation in applied research, transfer of science and technology for agriculture, rural development

HNDVN1_8948B85(VNFU website) 13th January 2015 in Hanoi, VNFU and Kume Hiryo Company (Japan) has signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in applied research, transfer of science and technology for agriculture, rural development.

Vice Chairman Lai Xuan Mon and  Mr. Shimatani Keiji- General Director of Kume Hiryo Company signed a memorandum of understanding.

Attending the signing ceremony, from VNFU side, Chairman Nguyen Quoc Cuong, First Vice Chairman Nguyen Duy Luong, Vice Chairman Lai Xuan Mon, and leaders of departments; from Kume Hiryo side, Mr. Shimatani Keiji- General Director and representatives of the relevant departments.

Through the signing ceremony, VNFU and Kume Hyrio coordinated an activity program based on common interests in the field of agriculture, for the purpose of conducting research, transfer, applications of science and technology for agriculture, rural areas in Vietnam.

The two sides will establish collaborative relationships with related departments and agencies through applied research, short-term and long-term training, proposed research and transfer application of science and technology and agricultural extension services to promote eco-agriculture to increase agricultural production with international quality standards.

Giving the speech at the ceremony, Chairman of VNFU Nguyen Quoc Cuong emphasized: ” This is the first Collaborative project between VNFU and Japan. So hopefully the terms of the signed memorandum of understanding will be the basis for specifying the programs and plans for coordination between the two sides, and work together to turn ideas into reality to bring Vietnam agriculture closer to the advanced agriculture in the world.”


By Mai Anh – Translator: Quynh Hoa


Farmer organizations learn participatory grassroots foresight for their communities

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) co-organized a workshop on empowering local organizations through foresight last February 2-7 in Quezon City, Philippines.

The workshop was attended by representatives from AFA, its member organizations Aliansi Petani Indonesia(API), Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA) in the Philippines, and the Institute of Himalayan Environmental Research and Education (INHERE) in India.

Facilitating the workshop was Robin Bourgeois, Senior Foresight and Development Policies Expert at the GFAR Secretariat, who is working on strengthening GFAR’s role in foresight and for providing an open and multi-stakeholder space for dialogue and action on the future of agricultural research.

Click here for the blog report at the GFAR website
Click here for related news story at AFA website

AFA attends conference global agriculture and food systems

AFA participated in the conference entitled “New Paradigms and Public Policies in Global Agriculture and Food Systems” last June 13-15, a few days before the G20 Leaders Summit held on June 18-19 in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Ika Krishnayanti, International Relations Officer of Aliansi Petani Indonesia or API, AFA member in Indonesia represented AFA to the event.

APi is a national farmers organization, founding member of AFA, with167,000 member households.

It has activities focused on advocacy for agrarian reform, management of production activities, improving market access and building solidarity among its members.

AFA’s participation was made possible by the invitation of IATP (Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy) and ANEC-Mexico, a national peasant CSO coalition.

The opening panel looked at the failure of the current system and the need for new strategies, with the objective of finding solutions and proposing public policies to ensure economic, ecological and social rights.

Ms. Krishnayanti joined the general plenary with the coalition on the g20 on the “campesino agenda” (peasants’agenda).
The plenary focused on the theme of the failure of the current food system and need for alternatives.

AFA also participated in a survey, coordinated by WRF during the last three months, in association with the CTA, which resulted in a set of recommendations of Farmers´organisations, traditional fishers, etc., addressed to the G-20.

Click here for Ika’s presentation
Click here for the alternatives
Click here for the program

AFA participates in global conference on women in agriculture

Today, there is a growing realization and commitment of the global community to achieve more sustainable and broad-based agricultural growth by addressing gender-related issues in agriculture through national, regional and global initiatives and partnerships.

The Road Map of the Global Conference on Agricultural Research and Development (GCARD) too has called for a radical reorientation of the agricultural research agenda to overcome the existing gaps and to face the emerging challenges of sustainable development and livelihood of resource-poor smallholder farmers, especially the women farmers. Urgent efforts are, therefore, needed to overcome the gender gap by empowering women in agriculture.

In view of this, the first Global Conference on Women in Agriculture (GCWA) was held last March 13-15, within the premises of the National Agricultural Science Complex (NASC) in New Delhi, India. The conference was organized by the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAAARI) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), with the support of various regional and international institutions such as ADB, GFAR, WB, CGIAR, AusAid, Canada Fund, UKAid, among others.

During this conference, four plenary sessions on (1) Reforms in Empowering Women in Agriculture, (2) Institutional Changes for Capacity Building and Partnerships, (3) Strengthening Capacity Building and Partnerships and, and (4) Towards More Effective Joint Action were held. Six parallel sessions were likewise held: (1)Assessing Women Empowerment in Agriculture, (2) Agricultural Innovations for Reducing Drudgery, (3) Linking women to markets, (4) Role of women in household and food security, (5) access to assets, resources and knowledge, and (6) climate change related risks and uncertainties.

AFA Secretary General Esther Penunia was a panelist in the first parallel session together with six other speakers. Her presentation higlighted the initiatives of many AFA members in empowering their women farmer members. (Click here for the paper and click here for the powerpoint)

The synthesis report, made by the GCWA team and GCWA secretariat , and presented by  Ms. Uma Lele, said that evidence shows investment in women has huge benefits in terms of social, economic, productivity and nutritional/food security and other outcomes. Some evidence has pointed out that production and food availability does not necessarily lead to nutritional outcomes, and that increased education does not necessarily lead to increased voice in decision making, even at household levels. The Report highlighted though that we need more and contextual evidence.

Also, the Report identified five emerging priorities to drive change towards women’s empowerment:
-make women’s issues more visible
-generate evidence and knowledge to address women’s issues in agriculture
-foster collective action and leadership of women and men
-promote women’s ownership and control
-secure women’s rights more broadly

Another output of this conference was the formal launching of the Gender in Agriculture Partnership (GAP). It was welcomed as a global initiative embracing all actors involved in gender and agriculture. Between now and the GCARD 2 (Global Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development, to be held in Paraguay this September 2012), the GAP and its priorities will be developed in a participatory process with individuals, institutions and investors. The next GCWA will be held in 2015, to be hosted by FARA (the regional agriculture research fora in Africa).

Click here for the synthesis report presentation.

For more information, visit

(Photo credit:

Various activities, important decisions mark AFA’s 5th general assembly

The Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) held various activities and decided on important matters on its recently concluded 5th general assembly, which was also a celebration of its 10th anniversary.

Vietnam Farmers Union (VNFU) hosted the event in Hanoi, Vietnam last March 9, 2012 back-to-back with regional farmers’ consultations on March 7-8 and a CSO consultation on the 31st FAO APRC that AFA attended on March 10-11.

The series of events officially opened on March 7 with a cultural presentation from a Vietnamese folk group, who also performed traditional songs and dances with participants from different Asian countries, and with welcome speeches from VNFU Vice-Chairperson Dr. Nguyen Duy Luong and incumbent AFA Chairperson Mr. Tsai, Shun-Te.

Around 45 representatives from 12 farmer organizations and partner NGOs from 10 Asian countries, such as API (Aliansi Petani Indonesia), FNN (Farmer and Nature Net) in Cambodia, VNFU (Vietnam Farmers Union), SorKorPor (Farmer’s Federations Association for Development Thailand), PAKISAMA (Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka) in the Philippines, AINOUKAI in Japan, KAFF (Korea Advanced Farmers’ Federation) and WAFF (Women Advanced Farmers’ Federation) in South Korea, TWADA (Taiwan Wax Apple Development Association), TDFA (Taiwan Dairy Farmers Association), KKM (Kendrio Krishok Moitre) and Action Aid in Bangladesh, NLRF (National Land Rights Forum) and CSRC (Community Self-Relience Centre) in Nepal attended the event, and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) in Mongolia.

Representatives from partner agencies, such as Nellie van der Pasch of Agriterra, Ignace Coussement of Agricord, Thomas Price of GFAR (Global Forum on Agricultural Research), Marlene Ramirez of AsiaDHRRA, Jose Osaba of WRF (World Rural Forum), Michael Commons of Green Net, and Dinah Fuentisima of WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) also graced the occasion.

Review of accomplishments and decisions

Opening with a video showing photos of the past four general assemblies of AFA, the 5th general assembly reviewed AFA’s accomplishments in the last two years (2010-2011) vis-a-vis the strategic plans it set for 2011-2015, while member FOs gave updates on their respective organizational activities.

The assembly also heard, discussed and adopted the Chairperson’s report regarding the administration and activities of AFA and confirmed decisions made by the Executive Committee in between general assemblies.

Exhibit, field visit, and courtesy call

As part of AFA’s knowledge sharing activities, each AFA member organization also put up an exhibit of its country’s agricultural products and traditional processed foods just outside the meeting room, where participants exchanged information on the items on display.

On March 8, participants also went on a field visit to an organic farming project, which is run mainly by women farmers.

It was followed by a short meeting with the VNFU chairperson and other leaders at the VNFU headquarters in a new building in Hanoi, where the two sides shared their aspirations and activities for farmers.

Two-year thrusts, new members, and new officers

The 5th General Assembly set the thrusts of AFA for the next two years, focusing mainly on governance and organizational development, capacity building, knowledge management, and policy advocacy.

The assembly welcomed AFA’s first two member FOs from South Asia — KKM (Kendrio Krishok Moitre) in Bangladesh and NLRF (National Land Rights Forum) in Nepal — whose applications for regular membership were previously approved by the AFA Execom.

It also determined the new set of Executive Committee members for 2012-2014, which in turn elected the new set of officers.

Through a collegial process that follows the tradition of leadership rotation, the Execom elected FNN President Uon Sophal as the new AFA Chairperson, the representative from Ainoukai as Vice-Chaiperson and the representative from API as Treasurer, while re-appointing Esther Penunia as Secretary General.

10th year anniversary, international women’s day, and tribute to farmer leaders

The general assembly was also an occasion for celebration and commemoration.

AFA celebrated its 10th year of existence through an exhibit of agricultural products, solidarity night, ritual of mixing and distributing traditional rice varieties from each Asian country, reading of solidarity statements from partners, awarding of plaques of appreciation, launching of a draft anniversary video and banners containing 10 themes, and the announcement of a plan to come out with a coffee table book highlighting AFA’s important achievements and future plans.

AFA also celebrated International Women’s Day during the field visit, courtesy call to VNFU headquarters, and solidarity night on March 8.

The Women Advanced Farmers’ Federation (WAFF), AFA’s first and so far only FO member composed solely of women, gave away gifts to women farmers during the field visit to the organic farming project.

VNFU’s Chairperson and other leaders also presented gifts to all AFA women during the courtesy call at the VNFU headquarters.

AFA’s women were again honored during the solidarity night, where they were given roses and asked to share their sentiments about the occasion.

Finally, the general assembly also set aside a special time to commemorate the heroism and martyrdom of farmer leaders in AFA who have died in the struggle for farmers’ rights.

The life and death of farmer leaders Lee Kyung Hae of South Korea; Vicente Paglinawan, Renato Penas, and Florita Caya of the Philippines; and women farmers Lamlaya Chamchamagar and Janak Kumari Chaudhary who died during the land rights campaign in Nepal were presented at the opening of the general assembly, followed by a moment of silence and a dedication of the event to their memory.

Click here for more photos

Click here for videos

AFA, CSOs prepare for 31st FAORAP conference parallel forum

AFA attended the preparatory CSO meeting last January 18-19, 2012 in Hanoi, Vietnam hosted by AFA member Viet Nam Farmers Union (VNFU). The objective of the meeting was to discuss the details of preparation for the CSO parallel forum to the 31st FAO Asia- Pacific Regional Conference which will be held on March 12-16, 2012. The meeting was able to come-up with key agreements on the design and the institutional arrangements related to the conduct of CSO parallel forum. The body was able to agree to form an organizing committee (OC) that will anchor the over-all conduct of the CSO parallel forum as well as ensure the meaningful interaction of CSO delegates to the official FAO-APRC process. The organizing committee is composed of VNFU as the head and representatives from established regional platforms engaging FAO (AHC and IPC) including AFA, APNFS, PAN-AP and IMSE. (Report and photo by Lany Rebagay, AFA Advocacy Officer)

In the News: Food crises: five priorities for the G20

This week, Agriculture Ministers of G20 countries ( including Indonesia, Japan, SKorea) are meeting. Below are the remarks of Oliver de Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.

Editorial by Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on
the Right to Food*

BRUSSELS, 20 June 2011 – On the eve of the G20 Agriculture Summit on
June 22-23 in Paris, there is no doubt as to the urgency of adopting
an ambitious plan of action. France has a decisive role to play with
the other major economies of the planet: together, they must advance
the priorities aimed at moving the food system out of its current

For it is indeed an impasse that we are facing. Starting from the
misdiagnosis of attributing global hunger to a simple lack of food,
governments have for years focused their efforts solely on increasing
agricultural production by industrial methods alone, as a means to
both feeding their growing cities and supplying international markets.
This has become a quick fix to the “failure” of national production –
increasing food supply has become a substitute for a real food
security policy. The failure of these long advocated “solutions” is
everywhere to be seen. The price spikes occur repeatedly.
Environmental degradation accelerates. Rural poverty and malnutrition

Let’s have the honesty to recognize where we have been wrong: hunger
is neither the result of demographic problems nor just the result of a
mismatch between supply and demand. It is primarily the result of
political factors that condemn small farmers, the primary victims of
hunger, to poverty. These factors include insufficient access to land,
water and credit; poor organization of local markets; lack of
infrastructure; and lack of bargaining power against intermediate and
an increasingly concentrated agro-industrial sector. It will take G20
leaders courage to put the global food system back on track.

Read more

In the News: Africa: Successful Alternatives to Corporate ‘Green Revolutions’

In the face of the Rockefeller and Gates foundations-funded AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa) lobby ‘to extend outdated 20th century industrial agriculture’ to the continent, Carol Thompson and Andrew Mushita look at alternative African approaches for improving agriculture that focus instead on farmers’ rights and build upon local knowledge.

‘How can a green revolution be achieved in Africa?’ After more than a year of study, the expert panel, commissioned by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, replied as follows: ‘no single technological bullet is available for radically improving African agriculture.’ African agriculture will require numerous ‘rainbow evolutions’ across the diverse African farming systems, ‘rather than a single Green Revolution.'[1]

By 2007, however, Annan agreed to be executive director of the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA), funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates and Rockefeller Foundations. AGRA proposes exactly the kind of agriculture the panel of agricultural experts (from South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, China and more) rejected: Monoculture of one or two crops with the goal of increasing yields through the high use of fossil fuels, chemicals (fertilisers, pesticides) and biotechnology (patented genetically modified seeds). AGRA finances agricultural research and lobbies across the globe (e.g., January in Davos) to extend outdated 20th century industrial agriculture to the African continent.

Read more at All Africa

AFA paper for the conference on “Leveraging agriculture for nutrition and health”

Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition and Health
February 10-12, 2011
Taj Palace, New Delhi, India

Speaker Summary Note*

Session: Re-thinking How Each Should Do Business: Regional and Actor Perspectives – East Asia
Speaker: Esther Penunia, Secretary General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development (AFA)

1. Introduction. First of all, thanks to IFPRI for giving us the opportunity to share our perspectives in this high level conference. I work as secretary general of the Asian Farmers’ Association or AFA. We are an alliance of national farmers’ organizations, currently with 10 members, with 10 million small scale women and men farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples as members, in eight East Asian countries – Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. Allow me to share these points:
Continue reading AFA paper for the conference on “Leveraging agriculture for nutrition and health”

AFA attends IFPRI conference on leveraging agriculture for nutrition and health (updated)

New Delhi, Feb 10 – The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) held a high level conference entitled “Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition and Health,” last February 10-12, 2011 at Taj Palace, New Delhi, India. The conference was attended by more than a thousand participants. AFA was represented by its Secretary General, Esther Penunia.

Continue reading AFA attends IFPRI conference on leveraging agriculture for nutrition and health (updated)

In the News: To Feed the World, Gov’ts Break New Ground with Civil Society

BANGKOK, Oct 15, 2010 (IPS) – For over a decade, seasoned activist Sarojini Rengam’s efforts to storm the bureaucratic barricades at global food security meetings in Rome hardly produced any cracks. The tightly structured agenda at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) gatherings she went to were unequivocal about where activists stood – in the margins.

The likes of Rengam, the executive director of the Asia-Pacific branch of global green lobby Pesticide Action Network, were given limited time to air their concerns towards the end of the annual Committee of World Food Security (CFS) meeting. Moreover, this virtual postscript to the conference came after government policy makers had already drafted a final document.

“Civil society organisations were often seen as environmental terrorists,” said Rengam of how groups like her Penang-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) and others from the global South were viewed by government officials who dominated the annual event hosted by the U.N. body in the Italian capital.

But not any more.

Read the full story at IPS

In the News: Food Prices Rise as Asia Projects Stall

TUGUEGARAO, Philippines—Failure to boost farm investment in poor countries after a global food crisis in 2007 and 2008 could prolong a recent jump in food prices, contributing to inflation in the developing world.

In the wake of the 2008 crisis, governments of developing countries and donor nations, as well as private investors, proposed a wealth of new spending, and industrialized nations committed billions of dollars to promote sustainable agriculture and emergency food assistance, notes a report to be released Monday by the Asia Society and the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines. The efforts included plans to develop unused or underused lands to farming in the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia and to expand farm roads and grain-storage infrastructure in India.

Some countries with well-developed agricultural markets, including the U.S., have significantly boosted production. But in Asia, the source of much of the world’s new food demand, some projects aimed at increasing production have been dropped or delayed amid the financial crisis, limiting the gains. Disputes over land ownership, lack of capital and concerns over environmental issues have held back other investments.

Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal

In the News (Phils): Editorial: Agriculture needs more support

For 2011, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking the approval of Congress for a P37.25-billion budget, which surprisingly is lower than the P39.24 billion previously approved for the current year. The department’s slightly smaller budget for 2011, however, has not worried Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala Jr. that much since he is carrying out a policy where whatever funds his agency should be put to good use.

Also, Alcala said that his department will spend P13 billion for irrigation next year, which is almost the same level as this year’s budget. He said irrigation is a very important component in helping the country achieve rice self-sufficiency.

He further said that the DA’s programs to retrain farmers and involve more state colleges and universities in agricultural development will do wonders over the short to long term for the country’s farming sector.

While the Aquino administration’s statements to support the farming sector cannot be cast in great doubt, it should realize that Philippine agriculture needs more monetary support to get out of its largely backward state.

Read the full article at The Manila Times

In the News (Vietnam): ‘It’s reasonable’ to ask companies to pay agricultural debt to farmers

Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Ho Xuan Hung spoke to Thoi bao kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times) newspaper about ways to fund rural development

Viet Nam is on the way to becoming an industrialised country by 2020. Are we causing difficulties for industries when we ask them to pay agricultural debts?

Vietnamese farmers and agriculture experienced a long period of economising to build the country’s industry and they still make a lot of sacrifices for the country’s industrial development.

Millions of rural residents give up their land for the construction of hydroelectric plants, water reservoirs, industrial zones and residential quarters though they don’t benefit much from them. They have to move from their homeland to establish new villages and settle down. Therefore, using industry to pay agricultural debts is a reasonable requirement.

Read the full article at Viet Nam News

In the News: Research and Markets: Japan Agribusiness Report Q1 2009

DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the “Japan Agribusiness Report Q1 2009” report to their offering.

Japan Agribusiness service provides proprietary medium term price forecasts for key commodities, including corn, wheat, rice, sugar, cocoa, coffee, soy and milk; in addition to newly-researched competitive intelligence on leading agribusiness producers, traders and suppliers; in-depth analysis of latest industry developments; and essential industry context on Japan’s agribusiness service.

Despite having an advanced level of mechanisation and high yields, Japanese agriculture is largely unprofitable and is able to supply less than 40% of the country’s food needs. In this new Japan Agribusiness Report for Q1 2009, we examine the challenges that the agriculture sector in Japan faces over the coming years.

Between 1960 and 2005 Japan’s food self sufficiency in a calorie basis fell from 73% to 40%. Over the same period, the share of agriculture as a proportion of GDP dropped from 9% to 1% and the area of agricultural land fell from 6.09mn hectares (ha) to 4.60mn ha.

While Japanese agriculture has enjoyed some successes, such as achieving self sufficiency in milk and rice production, farming has never really been profitable without protection from imports and heavy government support in the form of subsidies and price supports. Even production of the key staple rice has fallen over the last two decades as consumption has dropped.

Read the full story at Business Wire

In the News: Number of new farmers in Japan increases 11.4% in 2009

TOKYO — The number of people who entered farming in Japan last year increased 11.4% from a year earlier to 66,820 apparently due to a rise in the number of laid-off workers and retired baby boomers, according to farm ministry data released recently. Among them, the number of people who took over farms from aging relatives increased 15.6% to 57,400, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

Read the full story at Japan Today