At face value, the Asia Pacific is a giant in global food production — covering around one-third of the earth’s surface, it is the largest producer of agricultural and fish commodities.
With over half of the global population living off its land and oceans, the region’s food and agriculture industries are vital to global food security.
However, feeding such a large population is no easy feat. The pressure is on the agricultural industry to increase production while decreasing its environmental impact.
This is especially so with climate change, dwindling resources, and ever-growing demand.
What is Agritech?
Agritech, or agriculture technology, is the application of technology to the agricultural sector. It is playing an increasingly important role in meeting the needs of Asia Pacific’s growing population.
From precision farming to automation, agritech provides new ways to increase yields, reduce waste, and improve food safety.
Let’s look at the current state of agriculture in the Asia Pacific, and how the agritech industry will play a vital role in meeting the food system challenges of the future.
What is the Importance of Agritech?
Why is agritech growing increasingly important?
We know it plays a key role in solving some of the world’s biggest food production problems, but that’s not all. Here are more reasons that highlight its importance:
Meets Growing Global Demand for Food
The United Nations predicts that the global population will rise by 2 billion by 2050. This represents a 60% increase in food productivity to ensure they are fed.
Companies can use agritech to enhance food production and boost the capacity of the food agriculture industry.
This allows them to meet the increasing demand for food led by a growing global population and better deal with food scarcity issues.
Builds Sustainable Food Systems
Agriculture is not sustainable.
It is responsible for a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale. It takes up a staggering 70% of fresh water, contributes to the depletion of fossil fuels, and tropical deforestation.
Agritech helps to achieve agricultural sustainability through innovative technologies and digital transformation. They help farmers to do more with less and improve efficiency to maximise the use of natural resources.
Related Read: Relooking Sustainability After COVID-19 »
Protects Against Supply Chain Problems
The world’s food systems and prices have been affected by supply chain problems since the onset of COVID-19 at every stage of the chain.
The situation has worsened since the geopolitical tensions between Ukraine and Russia. The war has affected global agricultural exports from the two leading grain-exporting countries.
Agritech allows countries to become more self-sufficient and rely on their own produce instead of major exporters. This means that they will be less vulnerable to such problems that may occur again in the future.
Agricultural Production Today in the Asia Pacific
The Asia Pacific is home to some of the world’s most productive agricultural regions. It includes India’s highly fertile Indo-Gangetic Plains and the rice paddies of China and Southeast Asia.
The fisheries in this area are also very productive, accounting for nearly 70% of global fish production, with the bulk coming from China’s capture fisheries and aquaculture.
The Asia Pacific region is home to 4.3 billion people, or almost half of the world’s population, but just 30% of global arable land.
Add to this the ever-increasing shift to urbanisation (moving from 50% in 2021 to 55% by 2030) and general population growth of 0.6% p.a. (adding 322 million people by 2030), and you can see its vast natural wealth base is being pushed to its limits.
The current challenges are largely due to the sector itself suffering from fragmentation and inefficiencies that have grown into outright market failures in recent years.
Put simply, much of the industry is stuck in the past. As fertile as the Asia Pacific is, if a farmer cannot do something as simple as predicting the weather, it’s clear that some big problems need to be addressed.
This is an immense challenge — but luckily, one that agritech can help with.
Agritech Provides a Digital Overhaul for Asia Pacific Agriculture
Agritech offers a comprehensive digital overhaul to address the challenges the Asia Pacific’s agricultural industry faces.
It can be used to increase efficiency and improve yields through data-driven insights and decision-making.
It can also help to reduce wastage and improve food safety and food resilience, especially in resource-scarce countries like Singapore.
International spending on smart technologies like AI and machine learning is forecast to triple by 2025 to US$15.3 billion.
Here’s an overview of the technologies that can and will be used to increase efficiency and improve yields, firmly planting Asia Pacific agriculture into the 21st century.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Worldwide expenditure on AI and similar solutions are expected to hike to US$4 billion in 2026, a US$3 billion increase from 2020’s figure.
AI and machine learning offer real-time data to enhance agricultural efficiencies, boost yields and reduce production expenses.
IoT and Automation
The IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items. These items enable the connection and exchange of data.
In agriculture, IoT sensors can be used to monitor soil moisture levels, pH levels, and nutrient levels to optimise irrigation and fertilisation. This saves water and fertiliser while reducing the amount of chemicals that leach into the environment.
IoT can also be used to automate tasks such as planting, watering, and harvesting. Automation saves time and reduces the amount of physical labour required, making agriculture more accessible for an ageing population.
Information and Data Analytics
Data analytics is the process of extracting, cleaning, and analysing data to reveal patterns and trends. When it comes to agriculture, data analytics can be used to improve yields, reduce wastage, and improve decision-making.
For example, by collecting data on weather patterns, soil type, and crop variety, farmers can use data analytics to predict the optimum time to plant, water, and harvest their crops. This not only reduces wastage but also increases yields.
Data analytics can also be used to improve decision-making by providing farmers with real-time information on prices, supply, and demand.
This allows farmers to make informed decisions about what to grow and when to sell, ensuring that they maximise their profits.
Marketplace platforms will empower small-scale farmers to connect with larger consumer markets. This will not only increase their income but also improve food security.
For example, by connecting small farmers with restaurants and supermarkets, marketplace platforms link producers and consumers directly.
This will allow farmers to sell their produce at fair prices, while also ensuring that consumers have access to fresh, local produce.
Agricultural biotechnology is the use of technology to modify living organisms to improve agriculture. It can be used to safely improve crop yields, reduce wastage, and improve food safety.
For example, by using genetic engineering, farmers can create crops resistant to pests and diseases. This reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides and improves yields.
Agritech has the potential to revolutionise Asia Pacific’s agricultural industry.
By using cutting-edge technologies such as IoT, data analytics, and agricultural biotechnology, agritech can help improve yields, reduce wastage, and improve food safety.
It will help to fix failures that have plagued agriculture for the last several decades, making it more efficient, sustainable, and profitable.
In other words, agritech is the future of food, and it’s coming to the Asia Pacific region faster than you think.
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FAQs About AgriTech in APAC
- Agritech is important because it helps farmers and ranchers use technology to improve their production, protect their crops, and make better decisions about their land and livestock.
- Agritech offers more sustainable modern farming practices with the help of advanced technological innovations.
- Examples of agritech include:
- Artificial technology
- Machine learning
- Weather forecasts