Masaganang Agrikultura, Maunlad na Ekonomiya!

Phl pushes for ‘disruptive’ technologies to realize agriculture transformation

Author: DA Press Office | 13 March 2022

The Philippines is pushing for the use of disruptive technological platforms to enable the transformation of agricultural processes, not only in the Philippines, but in the Asia-Pacific region.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar highlighted the use of disruptive technologies, like e-commerce and global positioning systems (GPS), as means to elevating agriculture onto the 21st century, in his country statement during the Ministerial Roundtable on Greener and Better Agri food Systems after Covid-19, at the 36th session of the Asia Pacific Regional Conference (APRC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Disruptive technologies are innovations that significantly alter the way that farmers, fishers, consumers, industries or businesses operate, replacing old systems or traditional practices and bringing new, cost-efficient and superior attributes, added Secretary Dar, who was elected as one of the vice chairpersons and rapporteur of the conference’s ministerial meeting.

He highlighted the success of the DA’s flagship programs implemented at the height of the Covid-19 lockdowns, like the “Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita” (or One Idea, One Thought for Bountiful Harvests and Incomes) that provides alternative direct market channels, benefiting both farmers’ cooperatives and associations (FCAs) and consumers.

He also took note of how the Philippine private sector stepped-up in e-commerce, online marketing, and distribution; and in investing in food systems to cope with the country’s food needs, especially during the quarantine lockdowns.

“I would like to focus the intervention of the Philippines on what we think are the policy commitments that need to be embedded within the agri-food systems to ensure greener and climate-resilient initiatives, given key challenges such as the pandemic, agricultural pests and diseases, and climate change,” he told fellow agriculture ministers and senior officials from 42 FAO member-countries and 76 non-member nations and governmental and non-governmental organizations.

He also emphasized the need for partnerships to push the sector’s transformation. “We aim to implement these plans through knowledge exchange, science uptake and public-private partnerships. We are also scaling-up and sustaining our grassroot flagship climate program dubbed as AMIA or adaptation and mitigation initiative in agriculture. To date 130 AMIA villages have been established in the Philippines,” he said.

The Dhaka conference is the first hybrid Asia-Pacific regional conference held by the UN food agency since the pandemic.

For his part, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu, said the “serious effects of the pandemic on all sectors, including food and agriculture, the slow and challenging recovery and the lessons offered by the pandemic, including the centrality of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), highlighted the importance of agrifood systems and the need to transform these systems towards increased sustainability, resilience, and efficiency.”

Likewise, Hans Hoogeveen, the Independent Chairperson of the FAO Council, commented on the unique challenges facing Asia and the Pacific region and that the shortcomings of the global agri food system are increasingly apparent. He underscored the opportunities presented by digitalization of agriculture and the upscaling of agricultural innovations for transforming the region’s agri food systems towards greater sustainability, resilience, inclusiveness, and efficiency and the provision of better nutrition for all

Speaking on behalf of civil society organizations, Ahmed Borhan of the Asia Food Security Network emphasized that local and indigenous knowledge can provide solutions for sustainable agri food systems and livelihoods and that climate mitigation efforts, including nature-based solutions, must take local rights and land tenure into account and should not undermine existing local, sustainable solutions.

The FAO members in attendance acknowledged the challenges posed by the pandemic and that no one solution fits all and renewed commitment to a deep transformation of agri food systems to regain the lost ground on food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty, and job losses.

They also expressed concern about the negative implications from the pandemic for achievement of Agenda 2030 and lost ground on several SDG targets, which already needed accelerated efforts even before the pandemic.

They pointed out that addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through an integrated and multi-stakeholder response, including grassroots solutions from the region, based on the building back better principle, will be critical for achieving the SDGs.

One of the key issues during the conference is the development of a new thematic FAO climate change strategy that will focus on building agri-food systems that produce more food with more socio-economic benefits, but less impact on the environment and natural resources, generate rural development and better livelihood.

The ministers and delegates all referred to the threats from climate change facing their countries and the impact on their agriculture and food sectors. They also emphasized the need for climate-smart policies, innovations, and investments in agriculture, to increase climate-resilience of food production and enhance livelihoods of rural, agricultural, and coastal communities and their associated value chains. For this purpose, the participants agreed on the following:

  • facilitate countries’ access to climate finance for investment in national priority actions to address risks and opportunities for agri food systems identified in NDCs, the Sendai Framework’s Indicator C2: direct agricultural loss attributed to disasters and other climate change policies and strategies;
  • work with countries to adopt innovative technologies, evidence-based analyses, and partnerships to develop multi-sectoral approaches for scaling-up action to promote climate-resilient agri food systems and improve access to healthy diets; and
  • ensure the engagement of a wide range of stakeholders in efforts to promote climate-resilient agri food systems, including smallholder farmers and local communities, as well as other public and private sector stakeholders.

The conference participants also highlighted the crucial role of effective biosecurity systems in addressing both emergence of pest and diseases, as well as transboundary introductions to address risks to human, animal, and plant health. They also noted the vulnerability of small island developing states to the biosecurity risks arising from their high reliance on food imports.

They also agreed on the following:

  • provide technical support, strategic and policy guidance, and capacity development to enable, deploy, and expand digital innovations to support inclusive rural transformation, stronger rural-urban linkages, sustainable employment, and enhanced ability to absorb released labor, especially youth employment and small and mid-size enterprise (SME);
  • promote regional collaboration and exchanges to further advance inclusive digitalization, in coordination with academia, civil society, the private sector and other development partners;
  • explore the possibilities of a regional coordination and innovation hub to collate and disseminate of data driven tools and best practices from the region, to develop partnerships engaging with the private sector and other stakeholders, and to promote greater cooperation and collaboration;
  • build capacity for development and implementation of sustainable fisheries management plans, fisheries stock assessment and sustainable aquaculture systems, in cooperation with relevant regional fishery bodies;
  • expand work and support regional cooperation on sustainable forestry, in particular sustainable production, and consumption of wood;
  • promote science-based approaches at country level and ensure that knowledge, science, and innovation is easily accessible and locally adapted; and
  • strengthen knowledge management and exchange as critical issues, including for local/traditional knowledge, through platforms (including digital ones), forums for sharing technology.

“We believe that our collective regional and global response to both the pandemic and climate change must be broad, scientific, equitable, and innovative. We must develop efficient and resilient food production and delivery systems not only for today’s increasing population, but also for succeeding generations,” Secretary Dar concluded. ### (Noel O. Reyes, DA StratComms)


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