CABI has attended The Asia and the Pacific Food Security Forum 2024 – organised by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) – as part of its visit to the Philippines and mission to further strengthen partnerships for greater food security in the region.

The Forum featured more than 1,500 on sight and online participants from ADB members, development partners and the private sector to discuss solutions to help ease the food crisis in the region and enhance the resilience of its food systems.

Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang, Director of Memberships, and Dr Feng Zhang, Regional Director, East and South-East Asia, after the Forum, updated partners on CABI’s work to support the Philippines in transforming its agri-food system.

High-level strategic briefing

This included a high-level strategic briefing with CABI’s National Implementing Agency, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR), as well as some national and international partners in the Philippines.

The CABI team was welcomed by CABI Liaison Officer, Dr Junel B. Soriano (Director, DA-BAR) and his team. Dr Soriano updated the CABI team on the current remits, focuses and programmes of BAR.

Being a key agency managing and deploying government funding for agriculture research, Dr Soriano said there are great potentials for further strengthening partnership between DA-BAR/Philippines and CABI.

This is particularly relevant, he said, in developing and implementing some key programmes addressing the DA’s goal of economic recovery, food security, and poverty alleviation.

During the meeting, the CABI delegation highlighted the objectives of CABI’s Medium-Term Strategy 2023-2025, its key expertise, membership benefits and activities in the Philippines and wider Asia Pacific region.

Examples of this included CABI’s work with the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) to mitigate the impacts of the fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) on rice production with free identification and diagnostic services for the pest and its parasitoids.

Key areas for deepening collaboration between the Philippines and CABI were identified as pesticide risk reduction, including the CABI BioProtection Portal, nature-based solution for sustainable and safer production, transboundary pest management and value chain.

CABI has been an official observer to ADB’s annual meetings as well as project implementing partners for decades. It has also implemented many ADB projects since the 1990s, including 11 projects since 2019.

These have included the projects ‘Strengthening food security post COVID-19 and locust attacks’ as well as working with Olam International Limited to help create an inclusive, sustainable and connected coffee value chain.

Partnership has made significant contributions

Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang said, “The Philippines has been a valued CABI Member Country for more than 30 years. This partnership has made significant contributions to the sustainable development of agriculture, environment protection and knowledge management and dissemination in the Philippines.

“Many of ADB’s Member Countries are also CABI’s Member Countries. As such, CABI has been actively exploring ways of deepening collaboration with the ADB, which has been playing a leadership role in the region in addressing the issues of food insecurity, like malnutrition and transforming the entire agri-food system.”

In 2022, ADB announced a thorough plan to provide at least $14 billion in financing by 2025 to support its developing member countries so that they can transform their agri-food systems and address the underlying causes of food insecurity.

As part of the CABI visit, the team explored further collaboration with counterparts at PhilRice’s Central Experiment Station, and the Fertilizer and Pesticides Authority (FPA), Philippines, and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

They were received by Dr Eduardo Jimmy Qualang (Deputy Executive Director) and his teams at PhilRice, Mme Julieta Lansangan (Executive Director) and her team at FPA, and Dr Ajay Kohli, Interim Director General and his teams at IRRI. Constructive discussions on further collaboration were held and priority areas identified.

CABI has also been working in partnership with USDA-FAS and the FPA to strengthen agriculture and trade in the Philippines particularly in respect of compliance with Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) on crops.


Dr Feng Zhang and Dr Qiaoqiao Zhang examine the work being conducted at PhilRice on fall armyworm.

Working towards greater harmonization and collaboration on regulatory systems in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries will ensure that MRLs on crops, for instance, are based on scientific principles and international standards for the promotion of biopesticide products.

Collaboration enhanced in recent years

CABI’s International Development and research activities in the country are coordinated and managed by CABI’s centre in Malaysia which is led by Dr Feng Zhang in his role as CABI’s Regional Director for East and South-East Asia.

Dr Feng Zhang said, “Our collaboration with the Philippines has been enhanced in recent years. For example, CABI supported the Philippines on the detection, prevention, and management of fall armyworm in maize and rice.

“A pest alert was issued in July 2023, in collaboration with CABI, to help smallholder farmers identify and implement management practices to help reduce crop losses. As a technical advisor to DA-PhilRice, CABI’s work includes capacity building, early preparedness and mitigation measures including biological control.”

Philippines also benefited from work by SciDev.Net

The Philippines has also benefited from work carried out by SciDev.Net, the world’s leading source of reliable and authoritative news, views and analysis about science and technology for global development, which is part of CABI.

SciDev.Net has a team based in the Philippines who have carried out training on science writing and publication with the Philippines Press Institute. This has included coverage of agriculture-related stories with IRRI and several other trainings and focus group discussions through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

“Discussions continue between SciDev.Net and other stakeholders in the Philippines on potential news coverage collaborations. It is believed that built on these collaborations, there are good prospects for further strengthening the partnerships between the Philippines and CABI,” Mr Joel Adriano, Regional Coordinator for Asia-Pacific, SciDev.Net, said.


The CABI team with Dr Ajay Kohli (third from left), Interim Director General of IRRI during their high-level briefing.

Additional information

Main image: A high-level strategic briefing was held with CABI’s National Implementing Agency, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR), the Department of Agriculture (DA-BAR), the Philippines.

Relevant stories

‘Strengthening agricultural trade and sustainability: A collaborative effort by USDA, CABI, and FPA in the Philippines.’

‘Key milestone reached in ongoing efforts to enhance regulatory harmonization of pesticides in Philippines.’