ADOU 2021’s theme chapter, Transforming Agriculture in Asia, discusses opportunities and challenges for agriculture in developing Asia. It also recommends policies to improve food security and reduce rural poverty by making the agricultural sector more productive, sustainable, and resilient against risks including climate change.


How important is agriculture to developing Asia?

Boosting agricultural productivity in Asia and the Pacific is crucial to reduce poverty and support development, as more than 70% of the region's poor people live in rural areas, and a third of Asia's workers work in agriculture. Strengthening the sector is also key to ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition. We must increase the quantity, quality, and diversity of food to keep pace with Asia's shifting needs and preferences.

What's the biggest challenge for agriculture in the region?

The biggest challenge is climate change, and the droughts, floods, and extreme weather it generates. We can mitigate its impact in several ways by investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, by using advanced spatial information systems to predict damage, and by using crop and livestock insurance to help farmers cope with financial loss. We can also reduce the environmental effects of farming through new technologies and practices and by reducing food loss and waste in the supply chain.

What are some emerging developments for agriculture in the region?

One remarkable development is the growth of aquaculture. About 90% of aquaculture production is in Asia. It supports Asian consumers' large appetite for fishery products, providing animal protein. The second is new and improved digital technologies. They're helping agricultural producers and traders obtain weather, market, and technical information. They're also improving supply chains and food delivery, as we've seen during the pandemic.

What can policy makers do to transform agriculture in Asia?

Government policies should focus less on traditional production support, and more on integrating technologies, encouraging innovation, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure, and modernizing regulations. They should promote mechanization, water conservation, and climate-smart agriculture. In these areas, public-private engagement is necessary. We also need to make sure growth in agriculture benefits everyone, including women and migrant workers.