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The APO Agricultural Transformation Framework recommends the assessment of the readiness of member countries to embark transformational initiatives for their agricultural sectors as part of program interventions. The transformation of agriculture, particularly when supported by the adoption of appropriate technologies, will not only increase productivity in the sector but also unlock the untapped potential of rural economies. Rural economic growth will in turn boost national development. These are all significant, since core agriculture has been the slowest to respond to the multiple opportunities and challenges unleashed by technological advances, rapid changes in the external environment, and ongoing climate change, despite its importance in poverty reduction, food security, and improved nutrition.
A research project coordination meeting was held in Tokyo, 30 September–2 October 2019 primarily to discuss the research agenda related to assessment of member countries’ readiness to transform their agricultural sectors to make them more productive. It was guided by chief experts from the Republic of China and the Philippines and attended by national experts from India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam. They formulated set of indicators for readiness assessment that will be used to analyze gaps as well as to benchmark against advanced transformations in other countries. The assessment is directed toward the adoption of smart agriculture which can be replicated or referred to by others when embarking on their own transformation processes. The research is also intended to identify the institutional arrangements and mechanisms required to reap the maximum benefits from transforming the sector. The final research output will be a set of strategy and policy recommendations to help speed up the adoption of smart agriculture tools and techniques. After publication by July 2020, the research project will be followed by a series of dissemination activities for targeted stakeholders.
The APO initiative to transform agriculture is a comprehensive effort to respond to the most pressing challenges faced while maximizing the opportunities they present. Transforming agriculture can also enhance its role as a primary connection between people and the planet. The initiative can also help achieve multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals. However, certain prerequisites must be met for optimal agricultural transformation. Integrating transformation strategies into national economic development plans is one necessary condition but not sufficient in isolation. Other readiness factors must be addressed for the transformation to be successful, and they will be identified in the research for maximum impact.