Enhancing Food Supply Chain Resilience and Food Security in ASEAN with Utilization of Digital Technologies

Quick Facts:

  • November 2020 to October 2021
  • Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Background

The agriculture sector in Southeast Asia is an important pillar in contributing to food and nutrition security as well in achieving the achievement of sustainable development goals in the region. The challenges posed by climate change, loss of biodiversity, increase in food prices, inefficient supply chains, and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic have made the agriculture sector becoming more knowledge-intensive and innovative in finding solutions.

Advances in technological innovations such as precision agriculture, mobile technologies, remote sensing, drones, and big data analytics are paving the way for a broad digital transformation of agriculture in several countries by improving farmers’ access to information and markets, increasing productivity, streamlining supply chains, reducing operational costs and integrating isolated lines of development into smart, connected agricultural production systems and resilient food value chains. Despite the developments, the digitalization of agriculture poses certain challenges, including data and cybersecurity issues, labor replacement, re-education, and varying knowledge, skills, and capacity of individuals to adopt to new technologies requiring major transformations of farming systems, rural economies and communities, and natural resource management.

While digital technologies and innovations can support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Economic Community (AEC) in transforming to more resilient and sustainable agriculture and food system, the varying capacities among the ASEAN Member States (AMS) create digital divides in the adoption of digital technologies.

Project Components

Within this backdrop, the project aims to consolidate information on the status of digital technologies that have the potential to increase farm productivity and improve the resiliency of the supply value chain. The study is composed of three components focusing on:

  • Component 1: Macro data analysis: Estimation of the overall impact of COVID-19 on agricultural production and food value chain resilience in ASEAN;
  • Component 2: Assessment of actual status on the application of digital technology in the food and agriculture sector; and
  • Component 3: Formulation of a draft guideline on the utilization of digital technologies for the ASEAN food and agriculture sector.

Developing the ASEAN Guidelines

The implementation of the three project components will be done in parallel. The outcomes of Component 3 will incorporate the results of Components 1 and 2 to provide insight on the development of ASEAN Guidelines for Accelerating Transformation of Food and Agriculture through Digital Technologies and Innovations.

This regional guideline will equip the ASEAN region with recommendations and implementation considerations for making an informed decision that will shape the digital transformation of agriculture in the region. More specifically, the guideline will outline conditions and actions needed to make use of digital technologies for agriculture and food system improvements, including interventions to facilitate digital technology uptake in the agriculture and food sector.

Scope of Work

SEARCA, with the ASEAN secretariat, will lead the development of the Guidelines on the use of digital technologies to assist AMS in designing and delivering better productivity, resilience, and sustainable agriculture, thereby ensuring that everyone benefits from the emerging digital technologies.

Through this research project, SEARCA will make available services and organizational resources to assist the ASEAN. The knowledge produced, technical expertise developed, a network of alumni and experts, and institutional partners established from the conduct of research activities will all contribute to the continuous strengthening of the capabilities of individuals and institutions that are engaged in pushing the frontiers of agriculture and rural development in Southeast Asia. Through these and the conduct consensus-building dialogues, the project will contribute to SEARCA’s support to the ASEAN towards a smooth economic integration in the region.

The project period is from November 2020 to October 2021.