Malaysia has urged Southeast Asian countries to join efforts to leverage on each other’s agricultural strengths and advantages to ensure food security for Asia's 4.5 billion people.

It is the best method to bring together various stakeholders in the agriculture ecosystem, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek told participants of the Grow Asia Forum here today.

"And the result is proven by its many achievements in countries where it has a footprint. Farmers' incomes have increased, yields are boosted and at the same time environmental sustainability is ensured," he said.

Grow Asia, a multi-stakeholder partnership platform that catalyses action on inclusive agricultural development in Southeast Asia, is organised on the sidelines of the two-day World Economic Forum scheduled to start on June 1.

Such collaborations, he said, will also provide countries with a more diverse supply of nutritious food which they cannot grow locally.

"Asia is a continent with the most diverse climate, the longest coastline and the richest flora and fauna, it can grow any crop, raise any livestock, catch or culture any aquatic species," said Ahmad Shabery.

More diversified crops mean increased food security, which is very crucial considering that by 2050 the world population will reach 9.5 billion, or 34 percent higher than today, he said.

"Food production will need to rise 70 percent to feed the world's population at that time," the minister pointed out.

Grow Asia aims to reach 10 million smallholder farmers by 2020 and help them improve farm productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability by 20 percent.

During the one-day event today, leaders of countries will discuss building and scaling up multi-stakeholder value chain initiatives.