Searca called for the development of ASEAN guidelines on the use of digital technology in the food and agrifood sector

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Studies and Research in Agriculture (Searca) was approached by the Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to develop the Guidelines. of ASEAN for the use of digital technologies for the food and agriculture sector of ASEAN, its news release said.

Searca is expected to complete the guidelines in June 2021.

The development of the guidelines is part of the project “Strengthening the resilience of the food supply chain and food security in ASEAN with the use of digital technologies” of the ERIA with the Secretariat of ASEAN .

Searca Director Dr Glenn B. Gregorio said that “digital technologies and innovations are evident in helping the Asean Economic Community (AEC) transform into a more resilient and sustainable agriculture and food system, [but] the varying capacities of ASEAN Member States (AMS) create a divide in the digital ecosystem. “

“The guidelines on the use of digital technology will provide policy recommendations to AMS for more informed decision-making, as they are also expected to shape the digital transformation of agriculture in the region,” said Gregorio.

“More specifically, the guidelines will outline the conditions and actions necessary for the inclusive and sustainable use of digital technologies for the improvement of agriculture and the food system, including interventions aimed at facilitating the adoption of digital technology. in the agricultural and food sector ”, explained Dr Pedcris M. Orencio. , Head of the Searca Research and Thought Leadership Program.

Orencio said that “the ASEAN guidelines aim to facilitate digital inclusion on the use of innovative technologies that would help AMS farm families cope with the challenges of agriculture and production food in a sustainable manner. “

“These development interventions are also essential to assess the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic which is currently affecting the food and agricultural sector of Asean”, he added.

Searca organized knowledge sharing workshops with AMS to deepen their experiences and discuss their contributions and gather suggestions for the development of a set of guidelines to equip the Asean region with recommendations and implementation considerations. works to make informed decisions that will shape digital transformation. agriculture in the region.

The last virtual workshop in the series was co-hosted by Searca, ERIA and the ASEAN Secretariat, which featured experts who shared their experiences on digitization in the ASEAN agribusiness sector and their various initiatives. on smart agriculture.

Dr Paul S. Teng from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore and a Senior Fellow Searca discussed the challenges of agricultural digitization in AMS, including uncertainty in the viability and scalability of businesses, limited freedom for farmers to operate with data across multiple data service providers due to prohibitive costs and the digital agriculture service gap among AMSs.

At the same time, Dr Masao Matsumoto from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan highlighted his country’s strategies to promote smart agriculture, including demonstrations and dissemination, support services to farmers, a favorable environment, extension services and promotions abroad.

Dr. Nerlita M. Manalili, Searca technical consultant, presented the findings of the digital technology adoption survey and the draft guidelines.

The ASEAN sector working groups represented at the workshop were agriculture and research, crops, fisheries and livestock.

Delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam from the four ASEAN Sectoral Working Groups and Representatives of Grow Asia and the International Rice Research Institute participated in the workshop.

Gregorio said that Searca is revising the draft guidelines based on the recommendations of AMS, the results of other components of the project and the results of the two knowledge sharing workshops.

There are two other components of the ERIA project with the ASEAN Secretariat, the results of which collated will provide evidence-based policy information on the formulation of the draft guidelines.

One component, led by the International Food Policy Research Institute, will provide macro data analysis on estimating the overall impact of Covid-19 on agricultural production and the resilience of the food value chain in the Asean region.

The second is two-pronged with the University of Tokyo, the University of Wisconsin and the University of Technology, Wein undertaking technical needs assessment tasks, while NTU leads the analysis of emerging trends and patterns of technology. best practices for the integration of digital technologies and an enabling policy environment. for agriculture, commerce and information and communication technologies.

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