LEADING up to the landmark United Nations Food Systems Summit in September this year, the Southeast Asian Regional Center on Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) and Singapore-based CropLife Asia (CLA) convened a virtual dialogue on "Transforming Pathways: Working with Farmers in the Agri-food Systems."
According to Searca and CLA, to transform food systems, farmers need access to appropriate, affordable, profit-enhancing technologies and sustainable crop systems that do not result in ecological degradation or social conditions.
Dr. Glenn Gregorio, Searca director, said the dialogue discussed the use of digital technologies in producing safe and nutritious food and developing policies that promote an enabling environment for nature-positive production.
Gregorio noted there is a need to transform agricultural systems for long-term sustainability and in this process, farmers must have an active role with progressive perspectives on farming as a business operating in a modern agriculture ecology.
"Let us understand where our farmers are in terms of policy, technology and industry development, and of course, their integrated phases to have more action points and effective strategies in programs that benefit them the most," Gregorio said.
Dr. Siang Hee Tan, CLA executive director, said this dialogue helps in raising the voice of farmers at a critical time for Asia and the world.
More than 30 farmer-leaders from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam participated in the three-hour dialogue with representatives from the academe, industry and government, also to enhance farmers' collaboration toward transformed food systems.
The dialogue gathered insights on the influencing conditions that should be in place to foster change in the farming sector and discussed, in particular, policy which concerns various government institutions; technology, a concern for research and development institutions and the academe; and resilience, that is dependent on a sound collaboration with industry players.
The dialogue arrived at key recommendations that centered on the need for multisectoral support for interventions to improve market access; train farmers on new technologies, provide crop diversification and insurance programs.
Other action points focused on the reduction of economic risks of farming through good agricultural practices; present research results that can be understood by farmers; and use digital technology, such as weather forecasting equipment, to protect crops from natural calamities.
Tan vowed the CLA looks forward to continuing their work together with Searca "to ensure that our farmers are enabled and empowered to meet the challenges of a growing world."