Studies showcase future-proofing SEA agrifood

THE Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD) has published new research articles for its June 2024 issue focusing on initiatives and the grassroots in Southeast Asia as they respond to previous food and economic shocks and their aftermath.

In its Volume 21.2 release, AJAD published seven papers tackling common themes in ensuring food security, future-proofing farming, creating resilient food value chains, good agricultural practices adoption, agrifood digitalization, withstanding food disruptions, building food-resilient households and communities, and sustainability of rural development.

In a paper titled "Drivers of Successful Adoption of Eco-innovation: Case Studies of Agricultural Cooperatives in Vietnam," Huong Lan Pham and co-authors explore how opportunity, motivation and ability affect the adoption of eco-innovation (EI) by agricultural cooperatives.

The authors said incorporating EI practices, such as in water management, reducing pesticide usage, and waste management and recycling, "promotes sustainability among agricultural cooperatives for rural development and ensuring food security."

Based at the National Economics University in Vietnam, the authors stressed that managers should be aware of their cooperative's origins and their associated EI modes for the successful adoption of EI.

They said technology-driven cooperatives need to "strengthen their marketing and sales capacity by building more social ties or networks, while market-driven ones should engage proficient technicians who can effectively identify and educate members on suitable technology."

Meanwhile, authority-driven cooperatives must reevaluate their overall business strategy and devote time and effort to developing their human and social capital, the study added.

In "Motivation toward Rice Farming in Margokaton Village, Sleman District, Yogyakarta Province, Indonesia," Rosalia Natalia Seleky and her co-authors showed that farmers in the study area are motivated based on their educational attainment, side jobs, perception of farming as an occupation, farmland areas and encouragement from parents to be a farmer.

Based at Shimane University, Tohoku Professional University of Agriculture and Forestry, and Yamagata University in Japan, the authors said "understanding the factors that motivate one to engage in farming, specifically in attracting younger people and inspiring high levels of motivation in farming, is especially important for the future of rice farming."

In their "Analysis of the Strawberry Value Chain in the Philippines," University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)-based Mar Cruz and his co-authors aimed to create a resilient and sustainable smart food value chain, notably for the Cordillera Administrative Region, the main producer of strawberries in the country.

The authors said the challenges faced by the strawberry industry exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic gave more weight to assessing the industry through a value chain approach. They said pre-pandemic constraints included insufficient planting materials, capital limitations for technology adoption, weak price negotiation and processing technology; and that low strawberry prices due to reduced demand and mobility restrictions limited the capacity to operate.

The ensuing value chain development strategies prioritized tissue-cultured planting materials and research on warm-weather planting materials; and market linkages, distribution agreements and smart vending machines for processed products, the study said.

Coffee and cash assistance

The "Farming Systems and GAP Adoption in JASS coffee in Tlahab, Temanggung Regency, Indonesia," by M Royan and co-authors from Kasetsart University, Thailand, and L'Institut Agro Montpellier, France, was an interesting interaction study of coffee intercropped with tobacco and vegetables. It was through agrarian system diagnosis that the simple farming system in the study area before 1999, consisting of tobacco, red beans, corn and livestock, was found transformed with Java Arabica Sindoro-Sumbing (JASS) coffee as a conservation plant to abate erosion and as a new income source.

The authors found three-quarters of the farmers practiced plant spacing, while more than 75 percent intercropped and up to half of the farmers adopted water and soil conservation, along with growing shade trees, while a quarter of the farmers practiced fertilizing and pruning.

They said classified as "specialist coffee farmers" are at the forefront of good agricultural practices and have higher yield and income from coffee cherries than other types of farmers.

In a cross-sectional study, Mildred Guirindola and her co-authors assess in their "Household Food Insecurity and Covid-19 Social Safety Nets in Cavite, Philippines," the emergency cash assistance and food aid during the pandemic to help vulnerable households cope with the economic crisis and improve their food security.

To improve the safety net programs in the country, the authors from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, UPLB, UP Manila and the Philippine Children's Medical Center recommended updating the database of vulnerable and poor households for ready access during food shocks; improving food aid targeting, food items to be provided, and the delivery frequency and mode; and should also be combined with other nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive programs to gain the most benefits.

They said the study results can further add information and policy recommendations in strengthening the services for vulnerable population groups to withstand short- and long-term food system disruptions and eventually build food-resilient households and communities.

Digitalizing agriculture

In their "Digitalization in Indonesia's Agrifood Sector in the Wake of the Covid-19 Pandemic," Silvia Uthari Nuzaverra Mayang Mangurai and her co-authors review the landscape of agrifood digital technology studies and startups in Indonesia in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

These authors 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, show in their study that Covid-19 has hampered some agrifood activities but positively accelerated the development of digital technologies in the sector.

The digital technologies studied and utilized in Indonesia's agrifood industry were websites, the Internet of Things, global positioning system and geographic information system technology, artificial intelligence, big data and robotics. Most startups are in the form of farmers' advisory, mechanization platforms, digital marketplace, e-commerce, traceability, food delivery and peer-to-peer lending, the study said.

Based on multicountry research done from 2016 to 2021, the book review of "Becoming a Young Farmer — Young People's Pathways into Farming: Canada, China, India and Indonesia by Priyarsono" (IPB, Indonesia) provides new insights on the socioeconomic mechanisms underlying the phenomenon of aging agriculture both in developed and developing economies.

The review contributes as good reading material for tertiary education, advanced research in rural social studies and in formulating public policies in agricultural economic development.

AJAD is an international-refereed journal published by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).

SEARCA Director Glenn Gregorio said AJAD publishes articles resulting from empirical, policy-oriented or institutional development studies, as well as articles of perspectives on agriculture and development, political economy of rural development and trade issues.

Headed by Cielito Habito, professor of economics at the Ateneo de Manila University and the Ateneo Center for Economic Research and Development director, AJAD welcomes submissions all year round through

All the new and past papers published in AJAD are available from the same site for free, while print copies are also available through subscription.