New researches on SEA agri explore food security, sustainability

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has released the June 2024 issue (Volume 21.1) of the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD), which dives into critical themes for agriculture in Southeast Asia, including food security, resilient food value chains, and sustainable rural development.

Published by SEARCA, AJAD is a freely accessible, peer-reviewed journal focusing on agriculture and development research. SEARCA Center Director Dr. Glenn Gregorio said AJAD publishes articles on empirical studies, policy discussions, and institutional development analyses. While the journal offers online access to all articles, printed copies are available through subscription.

Dr. Gregorio said the latest AJAD issue features seven research papers that explore how communities across Southeast Asia are responding to recent food and economic shocks. These studies examine various aspects of agricultural practices and their impact.

One study, "Drivers of Successful Adoption of Eco-innovation: Case Studies of Agricultural Cooperatives in Vietnam," by Huong Lan Pham and colleagues, investigates how opportunity, motivation, and ability affect the adoption of eco-innovation by agricultural cooperatives. The research highlights the importance of water management, pesticide reduction, and waste recycling to promote sustainability and food security. The study suggests distinct strategies for different cooperative models. Technology-driven cooperatives should strengthen their networks to amplify marketing and sales, while market-driven cooperatives should prioritize strong technical expertise to educate members on the most suitable technologies. Authority-driven cooperatives, on the other hand, require a business strategy revamp and investment in human and social capital.

Another paper, "Motivation toward Rice Farming in Margokaton Village, Indonesia," by Japan-based Rosalia Natalia Seleky and her co-authors, explores what motivates farmers to stay in the rice-growing industry. The research reveals that factors like educational attainment, side jobs, perception of farming as a career, and parental encouragement significantly influence farmers' motivation. These findings can be used to attract younger generations and maintain engagement in rice farming.

"Analysis of the Strawberry Value Chain in the Philippines" by University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-based Mar Cruz and his co-authors. examines the strawberry industry, particularly the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study identifies constraints like limited planting materials, lack of capital for technology adoption, and weak price negotiation power for farmers. The authors propose solutions for developing the value chain, including using tissue-cultured seedlings, researching warm-weather planting options, and establishing distribution agreements for processed products.

The paper "Farming Systems and GAP Adoption in JASS Coffee in Indonesia" by M Royan and co-authors from Kasetsart University, Thailand and L'Institut Agro Montpellier, France, discusses the impact of introducing Java Arabica Sindoro-Sumbing (JASS) coffee as a new income source for farmers. The study found that coffee intercropped with other crops, along with the adoption of good agricultural practices (GAP), leads to higher yields and income for farmers specializing in coffee.

The impact of COVID-19 on food security is tackled in "Household Food Insecurity and COVID-19 Social Safety Nets in Cavite, Philippines" by Mildred Guirindola and her co-authors from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, UPLB, UP Manila, and the Philippine Children's Medical Center. The study evaluates the effectiveness of emergency cash assistance and food aid provided during the pandemic to help vulnerable households cope with the economic crisis and improve their food security. The authors recommend improvements to safety net programs, such as updating beneficiary databases for ready access during food shocks and combining food aid with nutrition-focused initiatives.

"Digitalization in Indonesia's Agrifood Sector in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic" by Silvia Uthari Nuzaverra Mayang Mangurai and her co-authors, analyzes how the pandemic has accelerated the development of digital technologies like Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and big data in the Indonesian agri-food sector. Hailing from Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Tropical Biology, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Universitas Tanjungpura, Institut Teknologi Sumatera, Indonesian Green Action Forum, Politeknik Pertanian Negeri Kupang, and University of Sultan Agung, Indonesia, the authors highlight in their study that many startups are in the form of farmers' advisory, mechanization platforms, digital marketplace, e-commerce, traceability, food delivery, and peer-to-peer lending.

The journal issue concludes with a book review of "Becoming a Young Farmer—Young People's Pathways into Farming: Canada, China, India and Indonesia" by Priyarsono. The review sheds light on the economics of aging farmers in both developed and developing countries. It is valuable for students, rural social research, and agricultural policymaking.