Singapore, 16-18 June 2010

H.E. Dr. Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of National Development, Singapore

Ms. Barbara Krell, Deputy Director of Regional Development Mission for Asia, United States Agency for International Development (USAID/RDMA)

Distinguished SOM-AMAF Leaders

Distinguished Resource Speakers

Distinguished Representatives of Development Partners and the Private Sector

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good evening.

It is a privilege and pleasure for me to extend a warm welcome to all of you to this ASEAN Conference on Food Security: Role of the Private Sector. At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation, on behalf of the ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat, to H.E. Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman for presiding over the opening ceremony this evening. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore and the USAID, particularly the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility for co-organising this important event. My appreciation also goes to the Monsanto Company for hosting the welcome dinner, this evening. I wish to thank all resource persons, speakers, representatives from the Development Partners and private sector for joining this meeting and taking part in the deliberation on food security, which is a high and priority agenda of ASEAN as well as the world today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Food Security and Global Challenges

The demand-supply equilibrium of food is gradually becoming less stable. The increase in cultivable land world-wide is meagre; climate change continues to affect agriculture; conversion of food for energy use is on the rise; transboundary animal and plant diseases pose increasing threats to food production; and agricultural commodity prices continue to fluctuate highly.

Compounding this, the world population continues to growth and at the same time the world population is ageing. According to FAO, global food production must be doubled to feed the world’s population currently standing at 6 billion and expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. It is estimated that over 100 million people are newly at risk of hunger as a result of this threat. As such, the global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be further hindered.

Therefore, it is important for all of us here to recognise that securing food for the people is not merely having enough rice or grains to consume on our plates or bowls. The World Food Summit held in 1996 has provided a holistic perspective to food security, which still holds true to date. “Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” In short, food security can be achieved when “availability”, “accessibility”, “safety” and “nutrition” dimensions of food are attained.

The structural solution to the problem of food security in the world lies in increasing production and productivity. Strong commitment from the public sector and partnership with the private sector is the key formula towards long-term food security. The same applies in the broader context of building an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Role of Private Sector in Agriculture

It has been well recognised that private sector is the engine of growth for the agriculture sector. This is especially so for sustainable development of agriculture and long-term food security. The public sector has played an important role in terms of setting clear development policies, establishing regulatory systems and making public investments for agricultural development, thereby establishing an enabling environment for development of the agriculture and food sectors. But for the development of sustainable and long-term food security to be achieved, public policy and development must be intertwined with strong private sector participation since they have the knowledge, capacity and resources along with the whole food supply/value chain to support food security. Synergy could be achieved if we leverage on the comparative advantages between the public and private sectors This will help to accomplish ASEAN’s common goals of food for all and sustainable livelihoods of our people, especially since we are working towards a peoples-oriented ASEAN Community by 2015.

Over the next two days, this is what the Conference is going to talk about. I believe the Conference will provide us a viable platform for discussing the areas that the private sector could clearly contribute to sustainable development of agriculture and ensuring long-term food security in ASEAN. At the same time, I hope the Conference will identify areas of incentives and elements of the enabling environment where both the private and public sectors could leverage on each other and which will provide opportunities for engagement and collaboration. I see the success of this Conference as a further contribution to food security and a reflection of the importance of public-private sectors participation in building a dynamic ASEAN Economic Community.

Concluding Remarks

In closing, I must underscore that food security issues are complex and finding solutions would also naturally require the involvement of all the stakeholders in ASEAN, particularly the public sector, private enterprises, civil society and ASEAN’s Development Partners. We must also take actions based upon collective wisdom and insights. As such, concerted efforts and enhanced collaboration and partnership among all stakeholders are therefore imperative for sustainable development of agriculture, food security, and well-being and livelihoods of the over 580 million people of ASEAN.

In a people- oriented ASEAN Community this must continue to be a high priority and I am confident that with the comprehensive agenda for food security in ASEAN and the active collaboration with our stakeholders and partners, this will be achieved.

I wish all of you a successful meeting and a pleasant stay in Singapore.

Thank you.