Programme profile

GRAISEA 2: Gender Transformative & Responsible Business Investment in South East Asia

Cambodia Indonesia Pakistan Philippines Vietnam Asia: South Eastern Agriculture Climate & environment Gender & social inclusion

Programme Index Listing

Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam
Main implementer
Other implementers
Embassy of Sweden in Thailand
2018 - 2023
Total budget
USD $12.6 million
Annual budget
USD $2.1 million
External links
Oxfam Asia

Project description / objective

To promote transformational change in gender norms, climate resilience and economic empowerment among marginalised small-scale farmers of rice and shrimp (especially women) by:

  • building the capacity and women's leadership of farmer groups, and supporting groups plans of how to address gender inequalities and norms
  • supporting processors, traders and input providers to develop more inclusive business models
  • promoting  policies of bodies such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to support womens economic empowerment

GRAISEA 2 builds on a first phase implemented from 2015-2018. 

Market systems focus


Rice is the most important crop grown in Asia, providing livelihoods for millions of farmers, and up to 70 per cent of calories for the poorest people across the region. Small-scale producers are responsible for the rice supply, but struggle to produce enough food or income for themselves due to increased pressures and competition for land, water, and inputs. Women farmers often particularly struggle, with limited access to finance or technical support and are rarely listed alongside men as co-owners. 

Rice farmers are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. In Pakistan in 2010 over 750,000 square kilometres of land was flooded, while rice growers in desert areas of Punjab faced droughts. Rice cultivation is also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.


Around 15 per cent of south east Asians depend on seafood as a significant source of income, and for many of the poorest it is a key source of protein.

The sector faces overfishing and illegal and destructive fishing. Multinational seafood companies dominate, with local fishing communities losing out. Aquaculture (farmed seafood) is rapidly growing to meet demand, but small-scale farmers compete with companies for land and water.

The work of women is too often invisible in the sector, whilst the increasing number of women factory workers face long working hours and poor health and safety conditions.

Mangroves are being destroyed for aquaculture ponds, and there is rising pollution as a result of antibiotics and chemicals being added to them.

Regional Advocacy

Regional advocacy around the themes of inclusive business, women’s economic empowerment (WEE) and climate change resilience at the south east Asian regional level, with a particular focus on The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Programme interventions


Producer groups

Working with 87 producer groups and agricultural cooperatives in Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam to improve their technical capacity, including:

  • use of key production standards e.g. organic and sustainable rice platform (SRP) - a quality standard and verification system used by many northern buyers
  • service provision to members
  • marketing and price negotiating
  • increasing number of women in formal leadership roles
  • policies to address gender-based inequalities and norms

Improving the capacity of key bodies representing / supporting producer groups, such as the Preah Vihear Meanchey Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, and a wide range of national and regional farmer forums.

Buyers / processors

Influencing 10 millers and exporters in Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam and international buyers to provide:

  • increased technical support to farmers
  • inputs and guaranteed purchases at a fair price
  • improved services and conditions to their own employees
  • services for female farmers to address burdens of unpaid care and domestic work

Technology providers / solutions

Supporting the establishment and scale-up of IT solutions to improve the functioning of the rice sector e.g. in Vietnam, support the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Develop to formulate a clear pathway to scale up the Rice Hero app for nationwide application, and the sustainable development of Employee Survey App for factory workers.

National advocacy and multi-stakeholder solutions

  • Supporting the establishment of the sustainable rice platform (SRP) working groups across countries, improving their sustainability, with a focus on WEE and development of local guidance.
  • In Vietnam, supporting the SRP working group to advocate for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to endorse the SRP Standard.
  • In Cambodia, supporting the district authority to organise formal multi-stakeholder dialogues on gender issues; the launch of a new sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) platform for businesses; and government advocacy work for the inclusion of WEE provisions in national contract farming policy and increased local government climate change resilience investment.

Regional multi-stakeholder solutions

Work with SRP to include WEE indicators in its core required standard and to develop additional voluntary WEE performance indicators for rice buyers and others who are focusing on WEE in the rice sector. Current focus is to increase shared responsibility in its chain of custody and enhance its approach to human rights due diligence. 

Aquaculture / shrimp

Producer groups

Working with 59 producer groups, cooperatives and women business groups in Indonesia and Vietnam to:

  • improve their technical capacity
  • improve their use of key production standards (e.g. the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative and Aquaculture Stewardship Council Standard)
  • improve service provision to members
  • improve marketing and price negotiating
  • increase leadership roles for women and policies to address gender-based inequalities and norms
  • improving the capacity of key bodies representing / supporting producer groups e.g. assisting the shrimp body, Kontinu, in Indonesia to become a representative body for farmers.

Buyers / processors

Providing capacity support and advocacy to six processors and exporters in Indonesia and Vietnam to increase their:

  • technical support to farmers
  • inputs and guaranteed purchases at a fair price
  • and improve services and conditions for their own employees.

With these improvements we were able to link them to higher assurance standards which improved their access to internationally buyers.

Input providers

Providing capacity support to multiple input companies to provide enhanced services to shrimp farmers and processors, including two technology and pond management companies in Indonesia, and a technology provider, to launch and manage the Vietshrimp App for enhanced pond management.

National advocacy and multi-stakeholder solutions    

  • Supporting shrimp associations in Ca Bau and Bac Lieu province to become sustainable and implement a code of conduct for their members – through providing technical support in developing operational and fundraising strategies, and funding communication materials to promote the associations.  
  • Advocacy work with provincial governments to endorse and promote the Asian Seafood Improvement Collaborative (ASIC) Standard.
  • In Indonesia, supporting the Government to develop a national action plans for business and human rights, with a focus on the aquaculture sector. 

Regional multi-stakeholder solutions    

  • Working with ASIC to develop its transformative Social and Gender Standard
  • Provide an improvement plan to farmers and processors
  • Enhance marketing and platform sustainability

Regional / national advocacy

ASEAN AEC Blueprint 2025-2035

  • Influencing of key ASEAN sectoral bodies - such as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AIHCR), the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women (ACWC) and the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW) - in order to influence the ASEAB Economic Community to mainstream feminist economic justice issues in its next Blueprint
  • National advocacy aimed at mainstreaming feminist economic justice issues in economic policies
  • Capacity support to national women’s rights organisations to continue campaigning for feminist economic justice

ASEAN agricultural value chain guidance

  • The development of agricultural value chain guidance
  • Advocacy of the ASEAN sectoral bodies - ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSME) and ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry (AMAF) - for their endorsement to their members
  • National piloting of the agricultural value chain development guidance with the Ministry of Agriculture in the Philippines

Action agenda on mainstreaming WEE in ASEAN    

The Action Agenda was adopted by ASEAN Leaders in 2017. To help deliver it, we are focusing on:

  • supporting the enrolment of more women-led SMEs on the ASEAN Access Platform
  • working with the ASEAN Capital markets Forum to include WEE employment indicators included in the ASEAN corporate scorecard
  • advocating for the ASEAN Business Advisory Committee to establish a permanent chair for a women’s representative
  • advocating for the ASEAN statistics committee to require gender disaggregated data from members.

National advocacy

In addition to regional and national advocacy specifically focused on shrimp and rice, GRAISEA is working on a number of cross-sectoral national initiatives including:

  • support to inclusive business and social enterprise legislation in the Philippines
  • support to the Government of Malaysia for a national action plan on business and human rights.

Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)


  • Improved the capacity of 30 new and existing rice producer groups and cooperatives to serve members
  • Supported 14 major buyers to provide fairer cooperatives contracts, enhanced inputs (such as climate resilient seeds), and technical capacity for medical and daycare centres
  • Influenced SRP to establish a new indicator around WEE in their rice standard

Aquaculture / shrimp

  • Improved the capacity of 29 new and existing shrimp producer groups and cooperatives to serve members
  • Three major buyers are now sustainably providing producer groups with technical and financial support. They are also buying at higher prices and contributing to cooperative funds to mitigate climate risks. 
  • Supported ASIC to develop its transformative Social and Gender Standards

Regional / national advocacy

  • Supported the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights to adopt a five year work plan (2021-2025), including promotion of UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (BHR) and a section on gender mainstreaming in ASEAN
  • Influencing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, adopted at the ASEAN Summit in November 2020
  • Integrating recommendations in the Guidelines for Promotion of Inclusive Business in the ASEAN
  • In progress: the ASEAN Committee on Women Work Plan 2021-2025, with unpaid care work and gender mainstreaming included as WP two workplan pillars 

Impact on poverty

By the end of its third year, GRAISEA 2 has reached over 10,000 direct beneficiaries through direct services and engaged nearly 100 individuals and over 700 organisations (such as companies and government agencies) through its influencing work.

[uploaded July 2022]