The sharp increase in international food prices in 2007/2008 has brought serious concern on possible socio- economic impact of ASEAN member states (AMSs). The ASEAN cooperation is highly expected as a means to address the problem especially by strengthening existing ASEAN initiative / measure.
There are a number of factors attributable to current state of the markets for food and agricultural products. On the supply side, the sharp rise of agricultural production cost- led by fuel oil and fertilizers, drop of yield and production resulting from irregular climate patterns, and higher cost of storing perishable goods, among others, contribute substantially to the rise of food prices. On the demand side, structural change of global demand for food commodities and land use for emerging biofuels market coupled with agricultural market speculation contributed to the soaring food prices.
In response, AMSs have tried to soften the impact particularly the most vulnerable part of population i.e export restrictions, price controls, price subsidies, and import facilitation. However , regardless of the options taken, there are winners and losers from state intervention in the market, either to be more effective at achieving their objectives of protecting consumers or assisting agricultural producers to benefit from rising prices.
Along this line, there is an urgent need to develop a policy framework compromising a strategic pursuit of measures/ action to be developed/ enhanced based on strong commitments and ownership among all Member States in order to ensure long- term food security in the ASEAN region. The special Senior Officials Meeting of 29th Meeting of ASEAN ministers on agriculture and forestry (Special SOM-29th AMAF), held on 5-7 August 2008 in Chiang Mai, discussed the concept note of the ASEAN integrated food security (AIFS) Framework. The meeting underscored that addressing food security would require, among others, common understanding among the Member States, timely and reliable data and information for policy decision , a long- term agricultural development plan focusing on sustainable food production and trade.
To concretize and elaborate further the AIFS Framework, the Special SOM-29th AMAF established an ad- hoc taskforce to develop a detailed workplan, including a Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security for the ASEAN Region (SPA-FS) for consideration and endorsement by the AMAF meeting to be submitted for approval by the ASEAN summit in 2008.