While vulnerable to economic fluctuations, market forces, and climatic events, agriculture remains a critical driver of food security and economic stability in Southeast Asia.
Agriculture accounts for up to 20% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for countries like Cambodia and more than 45% of the labor force in Myanmar. The region is also home to two of the world’s largest rice exporters (Thailand and Vietnam), is the top producer and exporter of palm oil, coconut, and rubber, and includes the top three exporting countries for pineapple, banana, mango, sugar, coffee, cashew, and cassava. Smallholder farming remains the backbone of agricultural production in Southeast Asia, with a lack of access to information, markets, and capital impoverishing smallholder farmers despite their efforts.
While the region’s food security needs could be met by a combination of food imports and the use of fewer, larger, and more modern farms, a more sustainable and socially equitable approach would be to empower the region’s smallholder farmers. This includes supporting their access to better training, inputs and modernizing supply chains, and promoting the adoption of more inclusive business practices.
As such, Grow Asia was established by the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat, to bring together governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other key stakeholders in the region to convene, facilitate, and scale efforts that promote more inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems in Southeast Asia.
At the core of our work are three goals:
adoption of more
security in the
Grow Asia comprises the regional Grow Asia Secretariat in Singapore, six Country Partnerships, each supported by an in-country team, and 44 Working Groups, organized around specific value chains (such as coffee) or cross-cutting issues (such as agri-finance).
Grow Asia is an Entity Associated with ASEAN. The accreditation recognizes the important role Grow Asia plays in the region, particularly in facilitating multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable agriculture development.