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Digital Technology Adoption and Potential in Southeast Asian Agriculture

While the rural agriculture sector has traditionally been seen as backward relative to the urban industrial and services sectors, it is a potential “low-hanging fruit” ripe for a much-needed digital transformation for agricultural development. ASEAN has seen a U-turn in progress in addressing undernourishment as early as 2014–16, owing to multiple factors. These include climate change which impacts have led to a slowdown in agricultural yield growth amidst growing consumption requirements. Digital technologies are important in adapting the agriculture sector to climate change and rising demand for it to serve as a key sector for food security, income, trade, and employment in the region. However, adoption of digital technologies in agriculture within the region is still relatively nascent, partly because of a general lack of understanding of such technologies and how they contribute to agricultural development. Also lacking is a common framework for understanding and classifying the relevance of such technologies. Thus, this article proposes a common framework and narrates how it was developed and used in facilitating discussions that helped develop the 2021 ASEAN Guidelines on Promoting the Utilization of Digital Technologies for ASEAN Food and Agricultural Sector. We draw insights from our earlier work on the state of adoption of digital technologies in agriculture in the region and give an overview of key challenges and policy opportunities for scaling up.


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