June 6, Nay Pwi Taw, Myanmar – The World Economic Forum (WEF) conducted its 22nd forum in East Asia last June 5-7 in Nay Pwi Taw, capital city of Myanmar, with the theme “Courageous Transformation for Inclusion and Integration”. Around 900 participants from business sector, government and civil society attended the conference.
AFA Secretary General Ma. Estrella Penunia joined a parallel session held June 6, entitled “Building Food Security,” as a panelist together with Rusman Heriawan, Vice Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia, U Ohn Than, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation of Myanmar, Rajeev Vaidya, DuPont’s President for South Asia and ASEAN, Franky Oesman Widjaja, Chairman and CEO of Sinar Mas Agribusiness & Food, Indonesia, and Debbie Taylor, co-founder of Proximity Designs in Myanmar. The session was moderated by Jamil Anderlini, Beijing Bureau Chief of Financial Times, and had as rapporteur Dang Kim Son , Director General of the Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (IPSARD) of Vietnam. The session was organized by the team from the New Vision for Agriculture, a WEF initiative led by 29 global companies.
In a meeting last June 11, 2013 at the Partnership Center in Quezon City, Philippines, AFA represented by Maria Elena Rebagay, agreed to join ANGOC, OXFAM and other regional and national groups in the Southeast Asia Regional land hearing advisory group tasked to provide advisory support in the conduct of regional land hearing. The group aims to:
1) Provide an overview of the facilitating and constraining factors on the entry of agricultural and land investments in the communities in different Southeast Asian contexts;
2) Assess the negotiation terms and processes to see if they are transparent, inclusive and participative, and if they conform to the prevailing legal/regulatory policies and standards (both national and international);
3) Analyze current and potential impacts of these investments on the communities in relation to land tenure, livelihood, basic services, food security and the environment, and develop community safeguards based on the people’s perspectives;
4) Recommend appropriate actions, whether by reforming policy or accountability mechanisms and structures, to address the flaws and gaps in regulation and in the negotiation terms and processes and identified (potential) impacts at community, national and international levels.
An AFA video featuring case studies on land investments in the Philippines and Cambodia was shown last June 10, 2013 at ADB West Core Resource Center at the opening session of the ADB brown bag session on the voluntary guideline on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forestry in the context of national food security (VG) and the responsible agricultural investment (RAI).
AFA Policy Advocacy Officer Lany Rebagay summarized the video presentation and emphasized the negative impact of irresponsible land-based investments which lead to the displacement of smallholder farmers, loss of biodiversity due to the introduction of unsustainable package of production and processing technologies including the unequal sharing of risks and benefit caused by unbalanced negotiation in the contracting process. AFA also stressed that small-scale farmers can effectively contribute to food security and poverty reduction if they are given security over their rights to productive resources like land, water and seeds.
Opaque private sector deals, increasing demand for land, insufficient consultations and impact assessments, and alleged complicity of powerful interests in land grabs, among others, have contributed to continuing land insecurity in Cambodia. This, in turn, has led to wide-spread forced evictions and land-grabbing among poor farmers, as activists call for transparency in economic land concessions and resolution of land disputes, while government promises a moratorium on new ELCs, a review of existing ones, and a nationwide titling program.