Speech delivered by Secretary-General Christian W. Wanandi
International Conference on Agriculture Insurance: Scalability and Sustainability
Thursday, June 8, 2023
At the Ministry of National Development Planning The Republic of Indonesia
ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth
Indonesia, as the Chair of ASEAN 2023, has chosen “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth” as its theme. What is the implication of this on the Agriculture Industry in a region where employment is mostly dependent on labor-intensive industry such as Agriculture?
If the growth that we are aiming for should be inclusive and sustainable, then we need to pay more attention to our farmers, fisherfolk and others whose livelihood is dependent on mother earth.
It is interesting to note that although the contribution of the Agriculture Industry in some countries’ overall income (Gross Domestic Product) is not so significant like in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, the agriculture industry employs one-fourth to almost one-third of these countries’ population.
This shows that although the value of agriculture is small in the overall economies of these four countries, it’s employing a quarter to almost one-third of its population. This is a good enough reason why we need to protect the livelihood of our farmers. If their produce would be destroyed because of natural disasters, a large part of the population would be affected.
We are now bracing for the effects of climate change on our agricultural workers’ fragile source of livelihood, which we are dependent on for our country’s food security.
Three ASEAN member states were ranked in the Top 12 among countries with the highest overall disaster risk in 2022. The Philippines is ranked first; Indonesia is third and Vietnam is number twelve.
It is also predicted that we will be experiencing El Niño this year. In most countries of Southeast Asia, this would mean that we will be experiencing dryer summer and bracing for the threat of wildfires.
The implication would be a reduction in the farmers’ output and decline in food production and an overall reduction in the country’s GDP. The ones who will suffer the most would be the developing countries. That would mean 8 out of the 10 ASEAN member states.
What solutions can we offer to mitigate this impending catastrophe?
The private sector, international institutions, and the government should work together.
The successful implementation of the Thai Rice Insurance Top Up Scheme is a good example where the Private and Government sectors worked together to provide assistance to farmers who needed it the most. Compared to different insurance schemes in the ASEAN region, Thai Rice insurance provided assistance to the greatest number of farmers, 7.6 million, with a penetration rate of 40% in 2022.
Through International Conferences such as this, we will be able to learn from one another and implement the best practices already tried and tested in other countries.
There is also a need to conduct a comparative study of policies and regulations of Agricultural Insurance of ASEAN member states.
Going back to the theme of ASEAN as the Epicentrum of Growth, the ASEAN-Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) is focused on five areas of policy reforms and one of them is food security. One path to achieve this is by protecting our farmers through an Agricultural Insurance Scheme. Food is a basic need. When we can achieve food security, it will bring about political and economic stability.
We hope that through this international conference, we will be able to provide inputs to National Development Planning Agency/BAPPENAS in its mission to develop policy direction toward sustainable and scalable agriculture insurance under National Mid-Term Development Plan 2024-2029. We would like to thank them and Japan International Cooperation Agency for partnering with ASEAN Insurance Council to hold this International Conference.
My special thanks to Members of ASEAN Natural Disaster Report and Works Sharing (ANDREWS) and Agricultural Insurance Working Group (AIWG) who flew in from different parts of Southeast Asia to be with us today. Our members are partners with government in ensuring that farmers are protected.
We look forward to a brighter future because farmers are now better educated, technologically savvy and agriculture industry will appear more attractive to younger generation if and only if government and us, private sector, will do our part.