Smallholder farmers play a part in sustainability with digital transformation

With an estimated 350 million smallholder farmers in Asia, there is untapped potential in what they can do for the global food system. Food & Beverage Asia speaks with Chris Chen, head of digital transformation at Syngenta Asia-Pacific, to understand more about how the company is delivering digital solutions to smallholders in the far-flung areas of this region, and inviting them to the sustainability cause.

Syngenta has been enabling digital change in the agriculture community, developing applications like Cropwise Grower that empower farmers to form connections with the marketplace and reap better crops. This application has been launched in Asia, where smallholder farmers can benefit from the additional information, they need to make better, more sustainable choices. As issues such as climate change and rising costs are felt even in the most rural parts of the region, Syngenta is confident that smallholders can play a part in the global sustainability agenda.

Having worked with smallholder farmers in Asia, what are some of the key takeaways you have picked up? Particularly, what are their key concerns, and how is Syngenta helping to overcome these challenges that overlap with other macro issues facing the global food system today?

Chris Chen: Global events such as rising inflation, food, and fertiliser prices, as well as climate change and geopolitical events are threatening food supply chains and food security. These challenges exacerbate the urgent need to feed a growing Asia, a region with a population projected to reach five billion within this decade.

Smallholder farmers are at the centre of this challenge. Out of the 450 million smallholder farmers in the world, most are in Asia, and they account for more than 80% of food production in this region. While smallholder farmers are a critical part of the solution to address food security, they have also been among the most vulnerable. Many farmers in Asia lack the access to finances, input, and know-how to grow more with less. Although farmers don’t call out climate change by name, the problems that they highlight which are impacting their yields, such as extreme weather patterns or new pest and disease pressure are all directly linked.

Technologies, in different forms, are designed to the needs of farmers and made available to them, holding the potential to not only produce more crops but to do so sustainably whilst helping them tackle the effects of climate change. Digital is one such example. At Syngenta, we are bringing digital transformation to this region through a range of solutions, from drones to mobile apps, that help farmers become more resilient and help ensure Asia’s food security.

The full article is available in the latest edition of Food & Beverage Asia August/September 2022 issue. To continue reading, click here.