Pre-Summit Interview with Suzanne Gaboury, Director General, Private Sector Operations Department, Asian Development Bank (ADB)

We caught up with Suzanne ahead of the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit to talk about the challenge of building resilient supply chains, and why ADB is invested in strengthening Asia’s food system.

Suzanne Gadboury, ADB, Q&A
Suzanne Gaboury, ADB

Recent world events have highlighted weaknesses in current supply chains, particularly for countries that rely heavily on imports. What are the most important areas to focus on in order to build supply chain resilience?

The recent events have highlighted the need to move from a just-in-time supply chain to a more storage-based model. This will not only make food supply more resilient by reducing waste from shipment spoilage and allowing more time for imported food to be delivered, but will also enable countries to store food to safeguard against possible shortages. This can be one of (several) possible solutions to address the food security issues that are currently facing Asia and the Pacific. Supply chain storage can also mitigate the impact of supply-demand fluctuations.

Digitization is also a core aspect of building resilience in supply chains, and further ensures compliance with environmental and social standards throughout global trade and supply chains.

Who are the most important players in the development of a secure food system in Asia? Where is collaboration needed?

The whole value chain for agribusiness needs to be considered – which requires a multi-sector approach. We need to consider setting up the right infrastructure so that commodities can reach their customer base. For this, we need to collaborate with companies on related infrastructure and financial institutions, particularly those that provide trade finance and facilitates transactions along the agriculture value chain.

We need to facilitate key players which include companies that provide critical inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and feed, to farmers and producers, and companies that process and distribute food staples to consumers. We need to work together with the government given that policy actions can both support or impede regional food security. We need to facilitate collaboration between governments on policy actions that affect regional trade flows.

In addition, the role of transnational agri-merchants is critical given that they aggregate, process, and move food across countries and regions, from regions with excess supply to demand sinks.

Why is the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit an important date in your diary? Who are you hoping to meet?

Food security is the most important agenda for us – in developing Asia in particular – the aftershocks from external market factors are putting many lives at risk from lack of access to food.

As a development institution we must continue to collaborate with the top market players in the industry to act on this issue and address the crisis. This is why the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit is important, it will allow us to meet with the key industry players and find actionable solutions.

Suzanne will speak on the opening panel of the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit, ‘Conflict, COVID, Climate Change: Building Resilience to Supply Chain Disruptions’, on October 26 alongside leaders from Pepsico and Thai Wah. View the full agenda here.