ADB calls for investment in smart agriculture as food risk rises

Credit: iStock/Thirawatana Phaisalratana

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has called for an investment from governments across the region in post-Covid-19 agriculture sector reforms, to support a transition from a labour-intensive supply chain to a more resilient and efficient agriculture system, including smart agriculture and mechanisation.

The ADB’s recent report, Food Security in Asia and the Pacific amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, concludes that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased food security risks in Asia and the Pacific, as strict quarantine measures and export bans on basic food items have affected all stages of food supply chains.

It states that household food consumption and nutrition have been significantly affected by loss of jobs and income, and limited access to food. Informal sector workers – 70% of total employment in the region – in particular, are at higher risk, states the ADB.

“In prolonged lockdowns, shortages of labour and input supplies can reduce the scale of crop production, while disrupted logistics limit the options of smallholder farmers on better priced markets,” states the bank.

“Swift and comprehensive policy interventions should focus on protecting consumers and public health; securing supply chains for producers; and promoting fair labour, trade, sound macroeconomic policies, and regional cooperation,” it continues.

“Post-Covid-19 agriculture sector reforms should support a transition from a labour-intensive supply chain to a more resilient and efficient agriculture system, including smart agriculture and mechanisation,” concludes the report.