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Scaling up inclusive digitalization in agricultural value chains

Thirty-sixth Session of the FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific (APRC 36)
















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    Book (stand-alone)
    Digital technology and agricultural markets
    Background paper for The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) 2020
    2020
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    Digital technologies have a high potential to enable further development of the agricultural sector, significantly reshape food value chains (FVCs), and greatly contribute towards more productive, resilient and transparent food systems. This paper provides a non-technical overview of digital technologies that have a high potential to revolutionize the agriculture and food industry, and contribute towards inclusion of small farmers into FVCs. The particular focus is on digital platforms providing e-commerce services and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs), such as blockchain, as they mutually enable more efficient and more inclusive local and global agricultural markets by tackling their contribution to reducing information asymmetries, transaction costs, and providing financial inclusion of actors along FVCs. Various examples indicate that digital technologies represent great potential benefits for small farmers including increased efficiency of production, direct access to market, inclusion in global value chains (GVCs), and access to finance and insurance services. The further potential of digital technologies, especially blockchain, could change existing linear food value chain models by providing more transparency and trust between the supply chain actors. Finally, by using digital technologies, governments can provide more efficient public services. Overall, the real impact of digital technologies on the agriculture and food industry will be more evident in the years to come when they become widely accepted by all involved actors, and their usage reaches a critical scale. The role of governments will be significant in enabling adequate environments for innovations and further technological development.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Scaling up inclusive innovations in agrifood chains in Asia and the Pacific 2022
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    The publication looks at innovations happening at all stages of the food value chain: from production to manufacturing and retailing. This also includes the extended value chain, for example input supply, financial services and agribusiness support services. Yields are improving and primary production is becoming more resilient as a result of digital technologies such as precision agriculture, agricultural drones, and digital farming services and marketplaces; and novel business models such as plant factories, crowdsourcing for farmers. Data and robotics help lift productivity and food safety in the manufacturing process. Online grocery commerce and food delivery services are revolutionizing the way consumers purchase food. Distributed ledger technology, such as blockchain, allows making payments and tracing back food products along the chain in order to increase transparency and trust. New business models are springing up to shorten the chain by removing or shifting stages and to make it fairer and greener, stimulated by enabling technologies and changing customer behaviours. Innovations such as these are discussed and illustrated by almost 200 practical examples from 21 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, across various types of firms and commodities. By observing emerging trends and providing concrete examples, the book discusses the nature of these innovations, how they are affecting food systems and value chains, positively or negatively, and how to deal with trade-offs. It concludes with a reflection on the impacts of these innovations, the policy solutions identified, and lessons learned to future-proof the region’s food systems, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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    Policy brief
    Agrifood chains in Asia and the Pacific
    Benefits and challenges of going digital
    2022
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    In Asia and the Pacific, all actors along the agrifood chain, from farmers to agro-industries and retailers, are increasingly using digital technologies to generate, store and process data and turn information into insights. By using a value-chain approach, it becomes evident for policymakers that not all agrifood chains digitalize at the same speed and therefore require tailored digital policies and strategies. The approach also helps identify critical entry points along the value chain for promoting the digitalization of smallholders and small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs). The value-chain lens also sheds light on what drives digital transformation: changes in consumer demographics, technological factors, behaviour and preferences, and changes in the broader environment, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, venture capital and increased pressure on natural resources. In light of this, there is an increased emphasis on the urgency of facilitating the sustainable transformation of agrifood chains in the region, particularly when it comes to investing in rural development linked with inequality and tied to the digitalization transformation, diversification and resilience of agrifood systems. These priority topics will not go away immediately after the pandemic is over. They will likely stay at the top of the agenda during the next decade.

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