$1.6m Fund to Promote Inclusivity in Agriculture

Grow Asia has launched a $1.6 million fund aimed at promoting women empowerment and gender-inclusivity in rural enterprises across Asia, with up to a third of women on the continent engaged in the sector.
At a vegetable market in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
At a vegetable market in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Women in Cambodia’s agricultural sector can benefit from a $1.6 million fund that aims to promote women empowerment and investment into gender-inclusivity in Asia’s rural enterprises.

Grow Asia, a multi-stakeholder platform of the World Economic Forum (WEF), launched the fund to “support programs that amplify the business case for women’s empowerment and incentivize public and private investment into gender-inclusive actions, practices, and policies – especially for small rural enterprises”, it said in a recent release.

Building on these foundational investments, Grow Asia “aims to raise and channel $5.6m through the fund into women’s economic empowerment programs over the next three years”.

Grow Asia will launch three complementary multi-donor impact funds to support parallel activities that promote agri-food innovation, responsible agricultural investing, and climate change adaptation and resilience in the region.

The fund is anchored by an $800,000 investment from Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and a matching investment from Corteva Agriscience.

Up to a third of women in Asia are engaged in agriculture. However, they face more barriers to finance, land, training, and inputs relative to men.

Research shows that empowering women within the sector drives equitable economic growth, injects more cash into rural economies, and increases investments in climate-smart solutions and services that are essential for long-term resilience.

A comprehensive suite of programs has been designed that will leverage the expertise of all parties and build on Grow Asia’s previous work in Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Vietnam, which has been funded by the Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAD).

Beverley Postma, Executive Director of Grow Asia, said, “[The] mission is to build more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable food systems. We need to engage women at every stage of agricultural value chains and empower them as decision-makers and leaders.”

Anindya Chatterjee, Asia Regional Director of the IDRC, welcomed the partnership. She said, "IDRC is delighted to see this catalytic match-funding from Corteva Agriscience, which builds on our investment in empowering Southeast Asia's women farmers as decision-makers and champions of green recovery.”

Ravinder Balain, Managing Director for ASEAN at Corteva Agriscience, added, “We know that women in agriculture feed more than just their families and communities. Their efforts help feed the world. Corteva is proud to be a part of this journey to help them thrive and make an impact that will last for generations.”

IDRC supports AGREE (ASEAN Green Recovery through Equity and Empowerment), an initiative in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam to demonstrate how Covid-19 recovery can be gender- and climate-responsive.

AGREE is mapping current gender-inclusive practices in agriculture value chains, testing pilot interventions with corporate partners, and informing policy that champions women as agents of climate action.

Established in 2015 by WEF and the ASEAN Secretariat, Grow Asia aims to cultivate more inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems in Southeast Asia. The multi-stakeholder partnership platform does this by brokering commercial and non-profit partnerships.

In Cambodia, Grow Asia has provided financial support to Cambodia Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (CPSA), which was launched in 2016 to improve the productivity, inclusiveness, and competitiveness of Cambodia’s agriculture sector. It is also a focal point for Cambodian agri-businesses and partners.