Agriculture leaders call for ASEAN food system to embrace Industry 4.0

20:05 | 11/09/2018

Today, over 170 senior leaders and decision-makers in the agricultural industry gathered at the Grow Asia Forum 2018, co-hosted by the Grow Asia Partnership and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The event took place alongside the World Economic Forum on ASEAN.

Leaders defined strategies for agriculture in the region and shared the common goal of encouraging modernised agriculture and food systems, which would place smallholder farmers at the core of profitable, sustainable, and growing supply chains.

Around 500 million smallholder farmers produce 80 per cent of the food consumed in the developing world. There is a pressing need to ensure that these farmers are equipped with the appropriate technologies, knowledge, and skills to meet the increasing global demand for sustainable food.

“We hold enormous hope for digitisation to transform the way smallholder farmers learn, communicate, and trade with agribusinesses,” said Grahame Dixie, executive director of Grow Asia. “The past year has seen a real change in how our partners view digital technologies. At the Grow Asia Forum, we heard from large agribusinesses and startups alike, including Bayer, AgriMedia, and Impact Terra, about how they are delivering greater profitably and sustainability to the sector.”

agriculture leaders call for asean food system to embrace industry 40
Trinh Dinh Dung, Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam, and other ASEAN leaders join hands to kickstart the Grow Asia 2018 Forum

Grow Asia is a multi-stakeholder partnership platform which promotes the cross-regional sharing of knowledge and innovative solutions to improve the productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability of smaller-scale farmers. Its five country-led partnerships now operate 37 value chain projects, which are increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes by up to 80 per cent. Over 480 partners are now involved, including governments, companies, farmers’ associations, civil society, international organisations, and research institutes, and the network is reaching over 690,000 smallholder farmers.

Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam, said: “With Grow Asia’s support, we are very proud of the progress we have made in enhancing Vietnam’s agricultural sector and equipping smallholders with the tools and knowledge they need. We believe that digital solutions can address some of the key challenges faced by farmers in Vietnam, from creating safer farm produce to boosting exports and improving farmers’ living standards. We encourage partners to join our efforts in applying high-technology and smart agriculture for our farmers.”

There is a growing global interest in multi-stakeholder partnerships to instigate change. “Grow Asia provides businesses with a unique pre-competitive space where problems can be solved collectively,” said Olivier M. Schwab, managing director, and head of Business Engagement under the World Economic Forum. “By embracing the positive changes being shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encouraging inclusivity in agricultural supply chains, the Grow Asia network is tackling the issue of environmental sustainability, while modernising global food systems and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the ASEAN.”

In 2018, Grow Asia initiated its Digital Learning Series to act as a launch pad to encourage the testing, dissemination, and wide-spread uptake of digital tools. Grow Asia is producing resources to help its partners adopt a digital mindset, including a digital credit scoring guide, and facilitating action through events such as a Hackathon where participants ideated digital solutions which could be applied on small palm oil farms. The winner was formally announced at the Grow Asia Forum. Four major companies are now providing financing to test these ideas in the field.

Leaders at the Grow Asia Forum also explored the World Economic Forum’s Innovation with a purpose report and emerging technological innovations that have the potential to drive rapid progress in the sustainability, inclusivity, efficiency, and health impacts of food systems. Grow Asia debuted a knowledge marketplace which provided participants with case studies of agricultural innovations, creative solutions, and resources.

Thanh Tung

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