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“Digital technologies will transform agriculture into a relatively more convenient and comfortable profession and help attract the youth back to farming,” asserted Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Agriculture Department Director Dr. Muhammad Saeed at the inaugural session of the three-day conference on Smart Agriculture for Sustainable, Inclusive Productivity in Tokyo on 5 September 2017. He noted that digital farming had all the ingredients needed for enhancing agricultural productivity sustainably and inclusively to feed future generations.
The conference is conducted by 10 APO experts from Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and the USA who will share their experience in smart agriculture to shape the future of the farming and food sector. Thirty participants from 16 APO member countries are attending.
The conference provides an opportunity for senior government officials, policymakers, representatives of farmers’ associations, academics, consultants, professionals, and practitioners to deliberate on the promotion of smart agriculture applications covering digital farming, advanced technologies, and innovative models to promote sustainable productivity in agriculture and inclusive growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Technological change has been the major driver in increasing agricultural productivity in all APO member economies. Most farming operations in many member countries are already mechanized, and the focus is now shifting to automation,” stated Dr. Saeed, who emphasized the importance of APO endeavors to promote digital options in addressing critical agricultural labor shortages. He pointed out that automation would also allow more productive participation of the elderly and women in agriculture.
The APO’s Smart Agriculture Program focuses on three elements: advanced agriculture and agribusiness management; future food systems; and inclusive rural development. The objective is to enhance sustainable productivity in agriculture to feed 10 billion people by 2050 in the face of issues including shrinking arable land and water resources, farm labor shortages, aging rural communities, lack of interest of youth in farming as a profession, and looming negative impacts of climate change on agriculture.