Common Challenges of Smallholders in ASEAN: Lacking Access to Land, Water, Market, and State

  • Danny MarksEmail author
Part of the Advances in Global Change Research book series (AGLO, volume 64)


This chapter focuses on smallholder farmers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV), examining the relationship between their access to and uses of the environment, changing regimes at regional and national levels, and environmental problems. It argues that environmental and food security problems are also always governance problems and that they cannot be solved unless their political-economic dimensions are addressed. Although the vast majority of the food supply in Southeast Asia comes from smallholders, many face not only accelerating climate change but also poverty, large-scale land-grabbing, and limits to markets, technology, credit, and water. Women smallholders especially face legal and social hurdles, including access to land, credit, and education. This chapter offers case studies of how the ASEAN Economic Community, which aims to form a single market to better integrate in the global economy, could actually worsen the situation for smallholders in CLMV. Noting that smallholders’ level of resilience is significantly affected by political economy variables, such as degree of access to power, the effects of public policies, and lack of state support, it then offers recommendations of what ASEAN, national governments, and civil society could do to help smallholders. Suggestions include harmonizing regulatory frameworks; reducing non-tariff barriers; ensuring access to, management of, and ownership of land; reviving the agrarian economy; implementing pro-women policies; and helping smallholders to better access markets and receive fairer prices. Moreover, future studies of agricultural and environmental problems should account for how power geometries affect the creation of these problems.


ASEAN economic community Smallholders Political economy Trade policy Land-grabbing Women farmers 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Asian and International StudiesCity University of Hong KongKowloon TongHong Kong

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