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Monday, 7 November 2016

The European Union and Farmers Organisations in ASEAN discuss the opportunities and challenges of family farming

Jakarta (07/11)-As an effort to strengthen the role of youths and agricultural cooperatives in the context of the ASEAN regional integration process, The ASEAN Foundation, in partnership with the European Union (EU), organised a Roundtable Dialogue (RTD) today (07/11) at the ASEAN Foundation Office. The forum served as an avenue to share existing initiatives as well as to discuss potential collaboration among Farmers Organisations (FOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), ASEAN, and EU.The event brought together representatives from FOs from EU and ASEAN Member States, CSOs, the ASEAN Secretariat, the ASEAN Centre for Development of Agricultural Cooperative (ACEDAC) and the EU which was led by H.E. Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Although ASEAN has made substantial progress over the last few decades in agricultural sector, poverty and hunger are still widespread in several countries in the region. Ensuring food security of the 64.5 million undernourished people in the region still remains a challenge. Agriculture plays a vital role in the economy development of the ASEAN region and continues to be a key factor for sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

"Family farms and small-scale farmers, left on their own, are often unable to effectively engage in modern business and market practices and they have limited access to new and more sustainable farming practices. In the EU or in the ASEAN region, cooperation between family farmers is therefore absolutely essential" said Commissioner Hogan.

"On the other hand, one of the major challenges faced by the agricultural sector in both the EU and ASEAN is the decreasing interest of young people to engage in farming. In line with this, EU and ASEAN need to look into programme cooperation that will ensure that innovative incentives are made available to young framers to attract them to work in agriculture as viable livelihood" he added.

Meanwhile the Executive Director of the ASEAN Foundation, Elaine Tan underscored the Foundation’s mission to include as many people as possible in the process of ASEAN community building. She stressed out that the ASEAN Foundation has been aspiring in bringing ASEAN closer to its people as an effort to build a greater sense of belonging among the people of ASEAN.

“This forum is one of the strategic activities to accelerate a people-centered ASEAN by encouraging people to think, feel, and be ASEAN individually and collectively. Today’s dialogue is part of the Foundation’s role in the ASEAN Famers’ Organisations Support Programme (AFOSP) to promote and facilitate policy dialogues between farmers or rural organisations and the relevant ASEAN bodies responsible for agricultural cooperatives and rural development. I hope this roundtable will help strengthen the small-scale farmers in the region, particularly the rural youth ‘the future of ASEAN’ to improve their livelihoods and food security in ASEAN,” she added.

The Roundtable Dialogue was designed in two parts, a dialogue with the EU Agriculture Commissioner, and a discussion among FOs, CSOs, EU and ASEAN key stakeholders to elaborate further on the ideas and concepts expected to emerge in relation to strengthening the role of FOs, agri-cooperatives, and rural youth.

The event aimed to increase awareness and appreciation of the various initiatives among stakeholders from ASEAN and the EU working on agricultural cooperation and to propose suggestions on potential tripartite programme cooperation between EU, ASEAN, and FOs /CSOs on agricultural cooperatives. The discussion also intended to identify concrete action points linked to tripartite cooperation and an institutionalised mechanism for social dialogue.


Media Contacts:
• Masayu Yulien Vinanda,
• Tioria Silalahi,

Notes to Editor

About ASEAN Foundation
Three decades after ASEAN was established, ASEAN leaders recognised that: there remained inadequate shared prosperity, ASEAN awareness and contact among people of ASEAN. It was of this concern that ASEAN leaders established ASEAN Foundation during ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary Commemorative Summit in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on 15 December 1997. ASEAN Foundation is an organisation from and for the people of ASEAN. The Foundation exists because of one vision: to build a cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community. As an ASEAN’s body, the Foundation is tasked to support ASEAN mainly in promoting awareness, identity, interaction and development of the people of ASEAN.

For more information about the ASEAN Foundation, visit:

About the European Union
The EU is a unique economic and political union between 28 European countries. Though richly diverse, the countries that make up the EU (its 'Member States') are all committed to the same basic values: peace, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights. They have set up common institutions so that decisions on matters of joint interest can be made democratically according to European standards. The EU has delivered more than half a century of peace, stability and prosperity, helped raise living standards and launched a single European currency: the euro. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe. The EU - with population of more than 500 million and a GDP of over US$16 trillion - is the largest trading bloc in the world. The EU is also the world’s largest provider of development assistance and among the leading donors of humanitarian aid in the world. For more information about the EU, visit:

About ASEAN Famers’ Organisations Support Programme (AFOSP)
The ASEAN Farmers’ Organisation Support Programme (AFOSP) is an EU and IFAD Grant funded multi-stakeholder project that was started in October 2015 aiming to improve the livelihoods and food security situation of smallholder farmers and rural producers in ASEAN countries. The main stakeholders of AFOSP are the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), La Via Campesina (LVC), ASEAN Foundation (AF), and participating ASEAN Farmers’ Organisations (FOs). To achieve its objective, AFOSP has been pursuing key activities such as: (1) strengthening the roles and functions of Farmers’ Organisations (FOs) in policy processes and services to members, including promoting policy dialogue with regional, sub-regional and national levels, (2) promoting the interests of rural smallholders and addressing their concerns in policy processes, and (3) providing effective pro-poor services through Farmers’ Organisations (FOs).

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