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The rapid spread of COVID-19 has disrupted lives and livelihoods worldwide. 

Beyond a public health crisis, the pandemic will impact global food security both directly (food supply and demand) and indirectly (decreasing purchasing power, barriers on food distribution) – both of which will more strongly affect the poor and vulnerable.

Grow Asia is bringing together representatives from the public, private, and producers sectors to map out sequenced and practical action plans along four regional Working Groups: Rural Logistics, Mobile Money, Digital Marketing and Digital Enablement.


These Working Groups will identify ways our partners can come together to increase the resilience of the ASEAN food system and address the weaknesses COVID-19 has revealed. This includes near-term action on areas with the greatest long-term potential, and to “build back better” a food supply chain which is more inclusive and sustainable.


This report provides a brief overview of the recommendations and action plans emerging from each Working Group, and is is updated regularly. This report was last updated on 16 October 2020.


A summary of the four Working Groups can be found below: 

The Rural Logistics Working Group was established to address the failure of products reaching end markets due to supply chain disruptions. These disruptions have resulted in produce being thrown away and incomes not reaching farmers, disabling their ability to make the necessary investments in their next crop cycle. Working Group members are exploring ways of improving rural logistics with technology and other best practices that enhance vehicle utilization and food preservation in ASEAN. Expected outcomes include recommendations for managing agri-food movement during the pandemic, and a logistics resilience matrix that assesses how ASEAN countries’ food supply chains are performing and how they can be improved.


To get involved, contact the Working Group moderator:


Tim Foote
Owner & Lead Consultant,

Mobile money is seen as an enabler to improve cash flow into the rural economy and the buying power of growers, and a core ingredient of successful digital marketing platforms. The Mobile Money Working Group is developing recommendations for decision makers to build a more conducive ecosystem for mobile money. Key focus areas include (i) increasing access to financial literacy training, especially for women and youth, (ii) use cases for digital services and products, including savings, payments, remittances, payroll, and insurance, and (iii) improving quality in terms of reliability, affordability, lower transaction costs, improved transparency and reduced corruption. 


To get involved, contact the Working Group moderator: 

Michael Hamp
Lead Regional Technical Specialist Rural Finance,
Markets and Enterprises in APAC,
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

The Digital Marketing Working Group saw the need for a more flexible marketing system - one that's capable of switching products between end markets, promoting competition, and being responsive to consumers’ increasing interest in fresh produce, local supply chains and direct purchases from farmers. The Working Group is attempting to understand and map the enabling environment for digital marketing platforms. This includes gaining clarity around demand information (what to source, from whom, from where, and when), supply chain and logistics relationships, and effective business models (B2B, B2B2C, B2C, etc.).


To get involved, contact the Working Group moderator:


Anton Simon Palo

General Manager, 
Foodlink Advocacy Cooperative (FAC)

The Digital Enablement Working Group is taking a policy approach to support the realization of digital as a catalyst for rural transformation. Some of its ideas include attracting and incentivizing investments to improve internet infrastructure and rural bandwidths. Another area being explored is the creation of a farmer registry to build a picture of who the farmers, landlords and tenants are, and gather information on the size and location of their land. Ideally, this registry will allow for a unique identifier to be applied to each farmer - improving the efficiency and effectiveness of digital services while improving the delivery of public services to farmers.


To get involved, contact the Working Group moderator:



Paul Voutier

Director of Knowledge & Innovation,
Grow Asia, and Founder,
Ambit Robotics