Regional Policy Forum on Developing Public Policies for Family Farming: Reaching Out to the Grassroots through Participatory Policy Making

Regional Policy Forum on Developing Public Policies for Family Farming: Reaching Out to the Grassroots through Participatory Policy Making

27 April 2021, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 n.n. (ICT) | via Zoom (by invitation only)

Background and Rationale

The participation of the stakeholders, especially the beneficiaries of public policy, has become an essential part of the policy development process. In the past, the decision-making process failed to include stakeholders who are most affected by the policies that were being crafted then. This resulted in "Type III errors" or solving the wrong problems in the stage of problem structuring (Jordan and Turnpenny, 2015). This type of error encourages the use of a participatory approach to policy development.

Participatory policy making is a general approach which facilitates the inclusion of various stakeholders in the design of policies through consultative or participatory means to ensure accountability, transparency, and active citizenship. Participatory policy making can either be top-down, i.e., the government initiating the policymaking, or bottom-up, i.e., a particular stakeholder group seeking to influence a specific policy. It can also be initiated by external bodies such as international development organizations and donors. The government and these organizations play a significant role in opening political space, creating the right conditions, and setting up the necessary structures and processes to enable participatory policy making. On the other hand, it is the civil society organizations (CSOs) that help raise awareness about the issues at stake, help citizens and communities organize themselves, and advocate for more participatory policymaking (Rietbergen-McCracken, n.d.).

Crafting effective and appropriate policies requires diverse and complex information and expertise, and participation presents a wider range of information, ideas, perspectives, and experiences to the process. Popular participation likewise helps build grassroots capacity to effectively voice out their needs and concerns, while allowing the government to recognize multiple views and address sometimes conflicting perspectives. People participation can also reconcile competing agendas, mediate conflicting interests, and balance the concerns of all interested persons and affected parties. It likewise enhances the constituencies' sense of ownership and commitment to policy objectives, which increases support for and involvement in policy implementation, including supporting legislation and project design. These would then result to better legislation and projects that are effectively enforced and successfully completed. Yet participation also presents real costs and risks. It requires time and resources, thereby affecting schedules and budgets. As it often involves incorporating stakeholder interests into decisions, popular participation can also raise expectations, which are not all met. Participation can also trigger conflicts among different stakeholders if not ensured across the board and resulting in an unequal distribution of benefits (Veit, 1998).

SEARCA, in its 11th Five Year Plan (FYP) themed Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN), has realigned its direction towards transformation of the agriculture industry that focuses on policy, institutional, social, and technological innovations. SEARCA likewise recognizes the importance of the farmers and farming families as key partners and stakeholders to propel the agriculture industry towards food and nutrition security and poverty reduction. It has also seen the role of policy to address pertinent issues that hamper the progress of the agricultural sector (SEARCA, 2020).

Considered as the backbone of global agriculture, family farming is seen as key to achieving food security and sustainable rural development, presenting potential solutions to ending poverty, undernourishment, and malnutrition. The achievement of these goals will depend primarily on the development of public policies that would support family farms to become productive and sustainable, consequently allowing them to innovate and adapt given their diverse nature and the complexity of the challenges they faced (FAO, 2014; FAO and IFAD, 2019).

Given the success of the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) in 2014, the United Nations, during its 72nd Session in 2017, proclaimed 2019-2028 as the UN Decade of Family Farming (UNDFF). UNDFF presents a framework for countries to develop public policies and investments to support family farming and to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The success of the UNDFF will be ensured through the development of coherent, cross-sectoral policies, which concurrently address the environmental, economic, and social dimensions of agricultural and rural development (FAO and IFAD, 2019).

A Global Action Plan was developed for the UNDFF to provide a detailed guidance for the international community on collective, coherent, and comprehensive actions to support family farmers. It was designed around seven mutually reinforcing pillars of work and recommends a series of interconnected actions from the local to the global level ( The UNDFF Global Action Plan envisions the creation of 100 National Action Plans (NAPs) of Family Farming by 2024. These NAPs will serve as roadmaps for the countries to progress with the implementation of the UNDFF and ensure that actions reach the grass-roots level (FAO and IFAD, 2019). Hence, it is deemed beneficial to investigate how participation of farmers and farming families can influence effective public policy making specifically in the context of family farming.

It is in this context that SEARCA's Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), through its Policy and Program Advisory (PPA), will organize a virtual regional policy forum, in partnership with the Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), to discuss the importance and viability of participatory policy making as a strategy for public policy development in ensuring policy objectives and outputs caters to the needs of its target beneficiaries, primarily the farmers and farming families.

Forum Objectives

The proposed regional policy forum generally aims to provide a venue to identify and analyze the enabling factors and constraints to participatory policy making and how such a bottom-up approach can help ensure policy objectives are met and translated into equitable and sustainable benefits for its intended beneficiaries, primarily those at the grassroots level.

Specifically, the forum aims to:

  1. Identify lessons, gaps, and bottlenecks in operationalizing participatory policy making as experienced by various actors in Southeast Asian countries;
  2. Provide evidence on how people participation has been an effective method for public policy making by looking at specific country cases as well as the experiences in the development of UNDFF's National Action Plans (NAPs) in selected countries in Southeast Asia; and
  3. Gather insights and recommendations on how to further promote and strengthen the adoption of participatory policy making in public policy development to maximize the benefits that reaches the grassroots and ensure that policies cater to their actual needs.

Expected Output

Target Participants / Resource Persons

The proposed regional policy forum will be attended by representatives from SEARCA, AFA and its national platforms in Southeast Asia, other farmers', and civil society organizations (e.g., AsiaDHRRA), as well as the academe and research institutions with recent initiatives and projects related to family farming in Southeast Asia.

Tentative Agenda

8:00 – 8:15 a.m. Opening Session (15 minutes)
Welcome Remarks (5 minutes) Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio
About the Policy Forum (5 minutes) Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio
Program Head
Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), SEARCA
Introduction of Participants, Forum Guidelines, and Group Photo (5 minutes) Ms. Jean Rebecca D. Labios
Program Specialist
Training for Development (T4D), SEARCA
8:15 – 9:00 a.m. SESSION 1. Participatory Policy Making in the context of Family Farming in SEA (45 minutes)
Keynote Message (5 minutes) Ms. Ma. Estrella Penunia-Banzuela
Secretary General
Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
Video Presentation (20 minutes)  
Young Farmers' Perspective (10 minutes) Mr. Charlie Balico
Pambansang Samahan ng mga Nagkakaisang Kabataang Magsasaka (PAMANAKA) and AFA Young Farmers Committee
ASEAN's Perspective (10 minutes) Dr. Pham Quang Minh (TBC)
Assistant Director
Food, Agriculture & Forestry Division (FAFD)
ASEAN Secretariat
9:00 – 9:35 a.m. SESSION 2. Participatory Policy Making in SEA: Selected Country Cases (35 minutes)
Indonesia (10 minutes) Mr. Eko Cahyono
Senior Researcher
Sajogyo Institute (SAINS)
Philippines (10 minutes) Dr. Aileen V. Lapitan
Assistant Professor
University of the Philippines Los Baños
Vietnam (10 minutes) Dr. Dao The Anh
Vice President
Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Open Forum (5 minutes)  
9:35 – 10:15 a.m. SESSION 3. Development of the UNDFF NAPs: Lessons, Gaps, and Bottlenecks (40 minutes)
Indonesia National Action Plan (10 minutes) Ms. Ika Krishnayanti
International Relations Officer
Indonesian Farmers Alliance
Philippines National Action Plan (10 minutes)

Dr. Rosana Mula
Assistant Director
Agriculture Training Institute Department of Agriculture (DA)

Mr. Raul Socrates Banzuela
Executive Director
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)

Lao PDR National Action Plan (10 minutes) Mr. Pierre Ferrand (TBC)
Agriculture Officer
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Open Forum (10 minutes)  
10:15 – 10:25 a.m. Break (10 minutes)
10:25 – 11:25 a.m. SESSION 4. Breakout (60 minutes)


Dr. Romeo V. Labios
Technical Advisor
Partnerships Unit (PU), SEARCA

Ms. Irish Baguilat
UN Decade of Family Farming and Women Farmers' Agenda, AFA

Ms. Rhine Joy G. Lesigues (TBC)
IFAD Philippines Gender Network (IPGN)


Ms. Rochella B. Lapitan
Senior Program Associate

Ms. Donna Bae N. Malayang
Senior Program Associate

Ms. Ruth Jazrel M. Bandong
Project Associate

11:25 – 11:55 a.m. SESSION 4. Plenary (30 minutes)
Presentation of Group Outputs (15 minutes) Facilitator:
Ms. Bernice Anne D. De Torres
Program Specialist
Open Forum (15 minutes)
11:55 a.m. – 12:00 n.n. Synthesis and Closing (5 minutes) Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio
Ms. Jean Rebecca D. Labios