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  • Author: Stephen McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: While signs of democratization in a country may raise hopes of better natural resource governance, especially of forests, evidence from the Asia Pacific region in countries such as Indonesia and Cambodia demonstrates no significant relationship between a country's transition toward democracy and better forestry governance. Myanmar's transition to democracy is unlikely to counter this trend. Deeply vested interests operate within democratizing countries that outweigh the support inside governments or civil society for improving forestry conservation. Incumbents also stand to benefit directly from initiatives that promote free trade and further investment in the forestry sector at the expense of the environment and the most vulnerable in society. International organizations returning to Myanmar must fine-tune their policies to accommodate the local political economy of deforestation and should engage with elements on the periphery, dissenting voices inside the government, and a broad range of local civil society organizations. Failure to do so may exacerbate current trends and lead to future conflicts in the already volatile cease-fire areas.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Jefferson M. Fox, Jean-Christophe Castella, Alan D. Ziegler, Sidney b. Westley.
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For centuries, farmers in the mountainous region of mainland Southeast Asia have practiced shifting cultivation, with plots of land cultivated temporarily and then allowed to revert to secondary forest for a fallow period. Today, more than one million hectares have been converted to rubber plantation. By 2050, the area under rubber trees in the montane regions of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan Province is predicted to increase fourfold. Preliminary research suggests this massive land-use change could lead to drier conditions at the local level plus surface erosion, loss of soil quality, sedimentation and disruption of streams, and risk of landslides. And it appears that when primary or secondary forests are converted to rubber, carbon emissions are likely to increase. Despite environmental concerns, both local farmers and outside entrepreneurs are likely to continue expanding rubber plantations because of high economic returns. Production systems that provide the best balance between economic return and environmental sustainability are needed to improve the long-term outlook for the region.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment
  • Political Geography: Asia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sophal Ear
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
  • Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) pose international security threats because of their potential to inflict harm upon humans, crops, livestock, health infrastructure, and economies. The following questions stimulated the research described in this paper: What infrastructure is necessary to enable EID surveillance in developing countries? What cultural, political, and economic challenges stand in the way of setting up such infrastructure? And are there general principles that might guide engagement with developing countries and support EID surveillance infrastructure? Using the U.S. Naval Area Medical Research Unit No. 2 as common denominator, this paper compares barriers to EID surveillance in Cambodia and Indonesia and presents key factors—uncovered through extensive interviews—that constrain disease surveillance systems. In Cambodia, the key factors that emerged were low salaries, poor staff and human resources management, the effect of patronage networks, a culture of donor dependence, contrasting priorities between the government and international donors, and a lack of compensation for animal culling. The Cambodian military has also played a part. The government ceased a merit-based salary supplement scheme for civil servants after the military is alleged to have demanded similar pay incentives that donors had no interest in funding. In Indonesia the key issues emerging as barriers to effective surveillance include poor host-donor relationships, including differing host-donor priorities and a misunderstanding of NAMRU-2 by Indonesian authorities; low salaries; a decline in the qualifications of personnel in the Ministry of Health; poor compensation for animal culling; and difficulties incentivizing local-level reporting in an era of decentralization. As the interviews with in-country practitioners revealed, low levels of development in general are the main impediments to building EID surveillance infrastructure and are perhaps beyond the scope of health and scientific agencies at this point. Nevertheless, promoting greater understanding of these issues is a critical first step in mitigating negative outcomes.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Health, Human Welfare, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Cambodia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Maria Dolores Bernabe
  • Publication Date: 11-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The ASEAN Investment Report for 2011 considers 2010 as an important year for the region in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. FDIs in ASEAN for the said year reached a record high of US 75.8 million dollars, nearly double the inflows in 2009. Included in these FDIs were private sector investments in agriculture, as Southeast Asia has become one of the most favored destinations of large-scale agricultural land investments.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Gender Issues, Food, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Michael McConnell
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: ASEAN countries have long been an important international market for US agricultural exports. The United States, in 2011, exported almost $9.6 billion of agricultural products to ASEAN, making it the sixth-largest export destination for US farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses—behind Japan ($14 billion) and just behind the European Union ($9.6 billion), but well ahead of South Korea ($7 billion). Moreover, the value of agricultural trade between the United States and ASEAN almost doubled between 2007 and 2011, with the top four ASEAN markets in 2011 for the United States being Indonesia ($2.8 billion), the Philippines ($2.1 billion), Vietnam ($1.7 billion), and Thailand ($1.3 billion). With a population of 614 million and strong economic growth, it is expected that ASEAN will continue to be an important market for US agricultural products. However, the United States is likely to face increasing competition, particularly from China, Australia, and New Zealand, all of which have free trade agreements (FTAs) with ASEAN.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Demographics, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, East Asia, South Korea, Australia, Southeast Asia, New Zealand
  • Author: Sally Trethewie
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: Given that volatility in rice prices is expected to continue, governments in Southeast Asia should consider policy measures to address the factors that impact price formation and stability. The non- transparent nature of the way rice is traded in Southeast Asia is contrary to the free-trade rationale of ASEAN agricultural trade policy and food security frameworks. The underlying dynamic of opacity (of information) is the reason for policy decisions that contribute to instability in rice price formation. In particular, limited information on the availability of rice and composition of trade deals results in misinformed purchasing behaviour, particularly during price shocks. The lack of transparency perpetuates distrust in the regional rice market, leading countries to disengage from the market and instead pursue economically inefficient self- sufficiency strategies.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Sally Trethewie
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: In 2010, it was proposed that Singapore consider hosting an international rice futures market, with cited benefits being enhanced price discovery and price stabilisation. The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies hosted an Expert Working Group Meeting in Singapore in March 2012 to discuss the feasibility of this proposal. The market conditions of the Southeast Asian rice sector are seen as an impediment to the operation of an international futures contract, although opinion is divided as to the degree that these conditions would affect a contract. Whether feasible or not, the proposal for a rice futures market raises several issues related to the region's food security, in particular, the potential impact of futures trading on rice price volatility and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. This NTS Policy Brief provides a summary of these issues and presents considerations for Southeast Asian policymakers.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Food
  • Political Geography: Singapore, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Paul Teng, Sally Trethewie
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: Food wastage is prevalent in Southeast Asia and has significant implications for the region's food, environmental and economic security. It is likely that the region wastes approximately 33 per cent of food, but accurate estimates are not available due to a dearth of quantitative information. Wastage occurs at all stages of food supply chains, from the point of production to post-harvest, retail and consumption. Effective interventions to prevent and minimise food wastage exist but are not widely implemented in Southeast Asia. In the context of these issues, the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies hosted an Expert Working Group Meeting in August 2012 to discuss food wastage in Southeast Asia. This policy brief draws on the findings of the meeting and provides several policy recommendations for Southeast Asian governments to address urban and rural food wastage.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Food, Famine
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Author: Suresh P. Prabhu
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Threats of international water conflicts have garnered headlines in many parts of the world including South Asia. Yet, there are almost no examples of outright water war in history. Instead, national water tensions and issues in water management continue to bedevil South Asia and the largest country in the region. India's population currently stands at 1.2 billion people and is expected to reach 1.6 to 1.8 billion by 2050. For a country that already ranks among the lower rungs of the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index, faced by the stresses of such population growth, India will have to design a plan to satisfy basic human needs for survival, and identify—and maximize—the use of key inputs that drive India's economic growth. One common source that cuts across all criteria for basic survival and economic development is water. It is predicted that by 2050, the per capita availability of water at the national level will drop by 40 to 50 percent due to rapid population growth and commercial use. The main sectors that are heavily dependent on water, such as India's agriculture and power generation, will also affect the quality of water available, both for other productive sectors and for public use. The demand for, availability, and varying use of water all have an impact on India's water resource management and its relations with neighboring countries.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Industrial Policy, Water
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Southeast Asia
  • Author: David Wheeler, Robin Kraft, Dan Hammer
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: In this paper, we develop and illustrate a prototype incentive system for promoting rapid reduction of forest clearing in tropical countries. Our proposed Tropical Forest Protection Fund (TFPF) is a cash-on-delivery system that rewards independently monitored performance without formal contracts. The system responds to forest tenure problems in many countries by dividing incentive payments between national governments, which command the greatest number of instruments that affect forest clearing, and indigenous communities, which often have tenure rights in forested lands. The TFPF incorporates both monetary and reputational incentives, which are calculated quarterly. The monetary incentives are unconditional cash transfers based on measured performance, while the reputational incentives are publicly disclosed, color-coded performance ratings for each country. The incentives include rewards for: (1) exceeding long-run expectations, given a country's forest clearing history and development status; (2) meeting or exceeding global REDD+ goals; and (3) achieving an immediate reduction in forest clearing. Drawing on monthly forest clearing indicators from the new FORMA (Forest Monitoring for Action) database, we illustrate a prototype TFPF for eight East Asian countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. A system with identical design principles could be implemented by single or multiple donors for individual or multiple forest proprietors within one or more countries, as well as national or local governments in individual countries, tropical regions, or the global pan-tropics. Our results demonstrate the importance of financial flexibility in the design of the proposed TFPF. Its incentives are calculated to induce a massive, rapid reduction of tropical forest clearing. If that occurs, a TFPF for East Asia will need standby authority for disbursements that may total $10–14 billion annually for the next two decades. This financial burden will not persist, however, because the TFPF is designed to self-liquidate once all recipient countries have achieved clearly specified benchmarks. We estimate that the TFPF can be closed by 2070, with its major financial responsibility discharged by 2040.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Globalization, Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Asia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Southeast Asia, Myanmar