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Agricultural Transformation in Asia: Experiences and Emerging Challenges

Agriculture plays a key role in economic development, alleviating poverty and malnutrition, especially in the early stages of agricultural development. Several studies have demonstrated that neglecting agriculture, especially at the early stages of industrialization, can disrupt the process of economic transformation. This paper reviews the process of agricultural transformation in Asia through the framework proposed by Timmer (1988). It finds that agricultural transformation in Asia has followed a uniform pattern with unique characteristics in each stage. Moreover, the public sector has been instrumental in facilitating and guiding agricultural transformation. Emerging challenges in the agri-food sector in Asia have prompted some countries to promote a more inclusive and integrated approach to rural and agri-food system development. The next phase of agricultural transformation—pioneered in Japan, Republic of Korea (South Korea), and China—seems relevant to most countries in Asia and elsewhere. In all three countries, the role of the state in facilitating the next phase of agricultural transformation is highly instrumental in terms of policy, strategy, incentives, and resources. However, there is insufficient evidence to assess the efficacy of the transformative initiatives dubbed as the “6th industrialization in agriculture.” 


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