Seeding the Future of Agriculture in Asia

The world population is expected to soar to 9.8 billion by 2050 and more than half that population will reside in Asia Pacific. This signals an urgent need to improve the productivity and sustainability of agricultural practices to keep up with rising food demand and effectively feed the region and the world.

Accounting for 19% of all food and agricultural exports, Asia Pacific is a significant contributor to the global food chain. China and India are global leaders in the production of wheat, rice, cotton, and tea, while Vietnam and Indonesia are among the top five largest producers of coffee beans.

Yet, Asia Pacific is a food-insecure region with 450 million smallholder farmers that produce more than 80% of the region’s food consumption. Smallholders  often work on land plots smaller than 2 hectares and have limited access to markets and services. In addition, the lack of access to knowledge and support keeps farm production well below its inherent potential, as well as low incomes for the farmers. To make matters worse, smallholders have to battle climate change risks such as rising temperatures, lethal heatwaves, extreme weather and changes in water supply.

In the face of these immense challenges, smallholder farmers are tasked with scaling up productivity to meet the region’s burgeoning population’s demands. As much as they are integral to achieving our goal of food security, they are also the most underserved.

Syngenta Asia Pacific recognizes that farmers are our food heroes. As a leading science-based agriculture and technology company, we have a responsibility to empower and support our smallholder farmers as they navigate these key trends on the horizon:

Sustainable agriculture takes centre stage

Today, agriculture is responsible for roughly 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of freshwater consumption globally. Farmers are increasingly aware that human activity threatens the climate, and a majority worry about the impact on their food production and livelihoods.

To ensure that agriculture can sustain future generations, sustainable practices that can drive productivity while protecting soil health and biodiversity will be critical. Educating farmers on water management practices, soil care, and promoting biodiversity will be central to ensure sustainability of farming and the environment.

Shifts in Asia’s food basket

Asia will be home to the world’s largest proportion of middle-class population by 2030, and the region’s food spend will soar to more than US$8 trillion by 2030.
These consumers will have greater spending power and will be savvier about what they eat, fuelling a transformation within Asia’s food basket. Farmers must be able to adapt farm practices to meet the growing demand for food that is nutritious, high-quality and produced in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Farming goes online

The industry will increasingly look to digital tools to overcome the changes of feeding a growing population, low agricultural productivity and environmental challenges. New technologies and data can help farmers to monitor the weather and soil patterns, optimize yields, or connect to new markets through e-commerce.

However, any initiatives to help farmers adapt to these trends has to account for local nuances, as farmers across Asia Pacific may not have equal access to the same infrastructure, support or tools. In addition, these initiatives should balance enhancing the productivity and livelihoods of farmers, with sustainable practices that protect the environment and its resources.

We must support our farmers and empower them to meet these trends as agriculture shifts in Asia Pacific. We will focus our attention on building the capacity and capabilities of our farmers so that they can prosper. We will give them the tools they need – technology, agronomy advice, digital, mechanization, while ensuring that there is educational support for implementation. Our aim will also be to encourage equitable participation for all farmers, be it women, younger people or the elderly.

We have taken the first steps to work towards this and we lead with purposeful innovation to transform the way crops are grown.

1. We equip farmers with the tools and technology to succeed

Technology enables farmers to optimize their productivity and overcome challenges in the field.
We constantly invest in new digital solutions and platforms to deliver our products and agronomy advice directly to farmers. This empowers them with the know-how to identify problems and solutions right at their fingertips, and they can achieve self-reliance and effectively defend their fields against pests, diseases and adverse weather.

2. Encourage practices with limited environmental impact

We recognize the role of agriculture in adapting to and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Our initiatives are focused on helping farmers to protect their farmland, reduce the use of natural resources and conserve biodiversity.

3. Integrate across different partners

Farmers are part of an ecosystem that is connected to agriculture input providers, financial institutions, value chain players and consumers. We will play our part to build connections across the agriculture ecosystem to fuel innovation, social coherence, human development and economic growth, and ultimately benefit farmers.

There is no contradiction between meeting the needs of the farmer, the needs of the consumer and the needs of the planet. Syngenta puts farmers at the heart of what we do to achieve sustainable farming that benefits the environment, the food system and the livelihoods of farmers because building sustainable food systems starts with our farmers.

To find out how we are making this a reality across Asia Pacific, hear from our farmers.
1. Smallholder Farmers in Asia

2. 2021 ASEAN Farmer Sustainability & Resilience Study

3. The Asia Food Challenge