Transforming agriculture for sustainability and higher productivity
What happens in agriculture directly affects rural development, and vice versa. The role of agriculture continues to be crucial in all economies by ensuring food security, providing raw materials for industry, serving as a market for industrial products, contributing the labor and capital needed for the development of other sectors, reducing poverty, and assisting in rural development and environmental preservation. Those six roles make it possible for rural areas to provide food to urban areas as well as raw materials and manpower for the overall economy. All activities aimed at increasing productivity, effectiveness, and efficiency in agriculture therefore directly affect rural development and livelihoods.
Transformation is a must to enhance the productivity and sustainability of agriculture and make agribusinesses in Asian Productivity Organization (APO) member countries more competitive. In January 2019, the APO circulated its Agricultural Transformation Framework aimed at enhancing food security and meeting future food needs in the Asia-Pacific region. While member governments have undertaken initiatives on agricultural transformation, the results have been mixed. It is therefore necessary to examine the main issues and key success factors in agricultural transformation in national and local contexts to identify workable solutions for adoption or adaptation. Member countries can learn a lot from one another’s experience in this area.
The APO in cooperation with the Indonesian Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Village, Development of Disadvantaged Region, and Transmigration held a workshop on Agricultural Transformation in Bali, 30 September–4 October 2019. It was designed to enhance participants’ understanding of the roles of agricultural transformation, key transformation success factors, and the different models and steps followed so far to accelerate transformation efforts. Twenty-two senior government officials, policymakers, representatives of farmers’ associations, researchers, and consultants on agricultural development from 15 APO member countries were in attendance.
International resource persons Professor Sakae Shibusawa of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and Dr. Hyojung Lee of the Korea Rural Economic Institute gave presentations on recent innovations in agriculture as they affect rural development efforts in combination with transformation initiatives. They introduced specific practical methods, especially useful technology applications, to overcome common challenges encountered. The resource persons responded to queries, guided the group exercises, and encouraged participants’ involvement during the discussion sessions.
During the group work sessions, participants exchanged information about their countries’ current status of smart agriculture adoption as well as future innovation plans. It was clear that drones are widely used in agriculture in APO members and their applications are set to expand as costs decline and their benefits become widely recognized. As in other regions, many participants mentioned pest control as an objective in adopting smart technology. However, in contrast to farming practices prevalent in Europe and North America, labor saving was not a main objective of innovating the agriculture sector in most participants’ countries.