ERIA Co-organises Workshop on Digital Technology in Food and Agriculture Sector
Jakarta, 26 April 2021: The 2nd Knowledge Sharing Workshop under ERIA’s research project on ‘Enhancing Food Supply Chain Resilience and Food Security in ASEAN with Utilization of Digital Technologies’ was jointly organized by the ASEAN Secretariat, SEARCA, and ERIA on 26 April 2021. The workshop was attended by delegates from ten ASEAN Member States (AMS) representing ASEAN agriculture-related sectoral working groups. Representatives from Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries of Japan (MAFF-Japan) were invited as resource persons. More than 80 participants attended the workshop.
In his welcome remarks, Dr Pham Quang Minh, Head of Food, Agriculture and Forestry Division, ASEAN Secretariat, stressed the importance of the ASEAN Guidelines on the Utilization of Digital Technologies for ASEAN Food and Agriculture Sector as part of the implementation plan of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework which was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in November 2020. Mr Masanori Kozono, Policy Fellow of ERIA, also welcomed the participants to the workshop and suggested that the guidelines should take into account the role of digitalization in attaining a sustainable food system in the region.
In the plenary session, Dr Paul S. Teng of NTU, who is a member of the ERIA’s research project team, presented the research findings. He shared the adoption status of public and private initiatives in digital agriculture and highlighted the challenges of agricultural digitalisation in AMS, including the uncertainty in business viability and scalability, limited freedom for farmers to operate with data across multiple data service providers due to prohibitive costs, and the gap in digital agriculture services among AMS. Also, Mr Masao Matsumoto, Deputy Director‐General, MAFF Japan, made a presentation highlighting the package of measures to promote smart agriculture, including demonstration and dissemination, support services to farmers, enabling environment, extension services, and overseas promotions. Some of the smart-agriculture projects being implemented by Japan include an agricultural data collaboration platform (WAGRI) and the application of Artificial Intelligence for the smart food chain. He also introduced the Measures for the achievement of Decarbonization and Resilience with Innovation (MeaDRI) which is Japan’s new national strategy to achieve SDGs and sustainable food systems.
During the group work session, which was a closed session among the delegates from AMS, delegates were separated into groups to discuss the draft Guidelines on the Utilization of Digital Technologies for the ASEAN Food and Agriculture Sector. The outcome of the group discussions will be utilized as inputs for further improvement of the Guidelines.
In closing, Dr Venkatachalam Anbumozhi, Senior Economist of ERIA, suggested that the expansion of services providers and the financial sector along the supply chain should be encouraged, and to strongly engage in dialogues with broader sectors including private sectors and regulatory regimes dealing with multiple areas such as infrastructures to improve access to the internet, electricity, and rural roads. Mr Joseph Arbiol of the ASEAN Secretariat informed the workshop that the ASEAN Secretariat will further work with ERIA and SEARCA in revising the draft guidelines.
 SEARCA: the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture