Food Reserves: A Comparative Study on Food Reserve Management and Policies in Southeast Asia
Food availability is an important dimension of a country's food security and at the regional level, a balance between food production, exports and imports is important to ensure that there is stability in food security. The main sources of making food available in most Southeast countries are what 1Teng (2013) has called the "food taps" and comprise the following – self production, imports via trade, contract farming, stocks and reserves, and food aid. Anecdotal information shows that countries stockpile food, particularly rice, in different modalities. To maintain a supply of rice stocks for the population, most countries in Southeast Asia adopt a mix of trade instruments such as government-to-government trade, local procurement, and procurement through the private sector. Rice is a good starting point to study food reserve management processes and policies in Southeast Asia.
Given the potential role that stocks and reserves can play to stabilize food availability at the individual country and regional level, it is important to research the policies, processes and technologies, which allow this to be a viable strategy in Southeast Asia.
It is in this context that the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the members of the Southeast Asian University Consortium for Graduate Education in Agriculture and Natural Resources (University Consortium) have collaborated on a research project entitled "Food Reserves: A Comparative Study on Food Reserve Management and Policies in Southeast Asia." This initiative is in line with SEARCA's umbrella program on Food and Nutrition Security for Southeast Asia 2014-2019, which has also been adopted by the University Consortium since August 2014.
The project officially started in May 2015 and is expected to run until August 2017 with Dr. Paul Teng of the Center for Non-Traditional Security Studies of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University (RSIS/NTS) and SEARCA's Senior Fellow on Food Security, being the Principal Researcher.
This project will focus initially on rice as the primary commodity and include details on other commodities to be decided by partner institutions. The specific project objectives are:
Define and understand the importance of keeping food stocks and reserves, and the rationale behind countries' decision to stockpile;
Identify the commodities that countries stockpile and the modalities and mechanisms of food stockpiling that have been adopted, including physical, virtual, trade, national and regional mechanisms;
Examine the implications of a changing regional trade regime on a country's food stocks, as well as the impact of individual countries' food reserves on a regional stockpiling mechanism such as APTERR; and
Explore the feasibility of establishing other types of regional stockpiles beyond reserves.
Activity 1: Survey and analysis of food reserve management and policies among SEA countries (R&D)
The approaches to be used under this activity are as follows:
Collate and assess all studies on food stocks and stockpiling thus far and conduct survey and focus group discussions where needed, so as to understand the rationale behind countries' decision to stockpile, identify the commodities that countries stockpile, the modalities and mechanisms of food stockpiling adopted, relevant government policies; and
From the results of the study, identify policy implications and recommendations for the ASEAN region, including optimal stockpiling modalities, and examine challenges and possible ways of implementation (e.g., determining the appropriate level of food reserve, timing of storage and release of emergency stocks and financial sustainability).
Activity 2: Regional workshop (Capacity building)
Activity 3. Publication (Knowledge Management)
Activity 1 – (i) Explication of the techniques, processes and responsible agencies for managing food stocks and reserves in all SE Asian countries; (ii) Collation of all relevant policies on food stocks, reserves and stockpiles in SE Asia; and (iii) Identification of regional or non-government food stocks and reserves
To date, the project team has already completed its survey on agencies and institutions concerned with food reserve and stockpiling in the Philippines. The same survey was administered in other target Southeast Asian countries through the following partner institutions: (1) Bogor Agricultural University (Indonesia), (2) Universiti Putra Malaysia (Malaysia), (3) Institute of Policy and Strategy for Agriculture and Rural Development (Vietnam), (4) Royal University of Agriculture (Cambodia), (5) National University of Laos (Lao PDR), (6) Yezin Agricultural University (Myanmar), and (7) Kasetsart University (Thailand). As initial output, country reports were submitted by the respective Country Survey Coordinators.
Activity 2 – One regional workshop open to all interested SE Asian countries and to multi-lateral organizations on food stocks and reserves in relation to food security. Results of Activity 1 will be shared at this workshop.
A regional workshop on food stocks and the role of reserves or stockpiles was organized to improve understanding on the role that these can play in national and regional food security. Representatives from all target countries attended the event on April 2017 in the Philippines. Additionally, the workshop was used to identify implications of a changing regional trade regime (such as the AEC2015) on a country's food stocks, as well as the impact of individual countries' food reserves on regional stockpiling mechanism.
Activity 3 – Policy brief and/or monograph
____________________ 1 Teng, Paul P.S. 2013. Food Security: What it means for a Food-Importing Country. RSIS Commentaries. No. 222/2013 dated 4 December 2013