The term food value chain refers to the entire process of value addition to agri-food products along the value chain from breeding, production, processing to distribution, sales, and consumption. By implementing advanced digital technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things) and Big Data in the food systems, agricultural productivity, distribution system, and values of the agri-food products could be enhanced. Smart Food Value Chain (SFVC) could contribute to improve incomes and wellbeing of farmers in Asia.
The symposium project was proposed by NARO in 2019. The symposium topic addressed FFTC’s Strategic Action Plan, Theme 2: “Smart agricultural value chain”. The project aimed to (1) examine the domestic distribution situation of agricultural products in Asian countries, (2) formulate policies and discuss the future R&D to address the issues identified, (3) smartly adopt the Food Value Chain, and (4) improve agricultural productivity in Asia Pacific Region.
The project planned to invite 16 experts from the Asian and Pacific Region and partner institutes of NARO to share experiences and discuss 1) smartization of food value chain and smart food production, distribution, marketing and consumption. About 200 participants were expected from research, policy making, and public sectors, and the private enterprises involving in commercialization of agricultural technologies.
A two-day symposium at NARO in Japan, including an excursion was originally planned. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and local/ international travel restrictions, the workshop format was changed to be online via Zoom operated by an online workshop company contracted by NARO.
- To examine the domestic distribution situation of agricultural products in Asian countries.
- To formulate policies and discuss the future R&D to address the issues identified.
- To smartly adopt the Food Value Chain.
- To improve agricultural productivity in Asia Pacific Region.
- The symposium consists with following topics related to development of SFVC.
- [Keynote Speeches] Progress in smartization of Food Value Chain.
- [Smart Food Production] Traceability of foods (low pesticide residue, Good Agricultural Practice, halal and others).
- [Smart Food Distribution] The latest postharvest research and technology.
- [Smart Food Marketing/Consumption] Trend of functional food development and the regulations on food labels.
- [International Standardization] International standardization for supply of agricultural products.
- Clarify challenges in current food value chains of each country which need to be solved for the safer food distribution.
- Serve as a discussion table for the experts how to improve infrastructure, policies and/or R&D for the higher QoL of farmers.
The one-day online symposium consisted of an opening ceremony, two keynote speeches, and three thematic sessions with 4-5 presentations (15 min each) followed by a 20 minutes of panel discussion in each session. Online participants were groups into panel (speakers and moderators) and attendee (camera-off and microphone muted) in the “Zoom” virtual meeting room. The thematic topics are broad, embracing aspects from production to consumption and from research, piloting to policy. This report highlights major takeaways with key technologies, approaches and suggestions presented by session speakers.
Key takeaways (technologies / approaches/ suggestions)
- Digital technology addresses global challenges – climate changes, increased population, urbanization and demand for higher productivity and efficiency of food system. By contracting the digital technology in the 80s and current, showed great and promising potential of applying the technologies in monitoring environmental impacts, smart agriculture, and value addition for smart value chain of the future. (WUR, Netherlands)
- Personalized nutrition and dietary advice based on an individual’s physiological and psychosocial characteristics is more effective compared to the population-based dietary gridlines for improving nutrition as personalised one can help people to make healthy choices in a way that best suits them. (WUR, Netherlands)
Session 1: “Smart Food Production”
- Using plant growing sensor and artificial intelligence (AI) in predicting and forecasting vegetable growth, harvest time and quality helps in-time transportation and delivery to markets, processors and consumers. However more data is needed for model development. (NARO, Japan)
- GAP is not only a measure on reducing the risks in food safety, environmental conservation and work safety, but also useful for business improvement through better utilization of the records and documents required for GAP. Active participation of employee and family members in GAP certification/ implementation would help better farm management and training of successors. (NARO, Japan)
- Thailand is “Kitchen of the World” and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to diminish the demand for Thai agricultural products. While achieving the equilibrium in terms of economics, society, and the environment, continuation to collaborate for strengthening food security is vital so as to sustain global food supply from Thailand. (KU, Thailand)
- A smart forewarning system on Rice Brown Planthopper was developed using mobile phone taking selfie stick, image recognition and database, and machine learning for farmers to monitor planthoppers population and level of damage in their own fields. This technology helps farmers take timely preventive measures. (TARI, Taiwan)
- Rice are produced in different agroecological system in Indonesia that help resilient from climate impacts. Nationwide monitoring of rice production/ distribution/ market indicated that COVID-19 has limited impact on rice production and instead, increased production areas and new distribution patterns were observed. Postharvest processing loss remain the key issue in Indonesia. (IPB, Indonesia)
Session 2: Smart food processing and distribution
- Shifting the transport method of fresh produce from air to sea shipment not only increase transportation capacity but also save cost. Optimum cushioning package and storability characteristics research using predictive models of quality change to overcome possible damages from vibration shock and high temperature during sea shipment were introduced. (NARO, Japan)
- Microwave processing was suggested for reducing drying time, quick cook rice, oil-free snack, development of lower GI gluten-free products and assisted-baking to serve fresh bakery to customers. (KU, Thailand)
- To build a more agile and resilient agricultural food chain in response to the pandemic, a farm to fork intervention model was suggested, highlighting (a) retaining value creation, efficiency, and inclusivity goals in further developing the supply chains; (2) adopting smart technologies, innovative systems and solutions to improve adaptive capacity; and (3) advocating for sustainable and diversified consumption. (PCAARRD, Philippines)
- In addition to the Codex standards under FAO/WHO, exporters should also pay attention to some domestic regulations for export as not all food safety and quality standards are covered by Codex. Examples include FSMA rules in USA, BRC standards in UK, EFSA in EU, and Xiamen entry-exit inspection to get import license in China. (KU, Thailand)
Session 3: Smart food marketing and consumer preference
- Vietnam government issued various policies to manage food safety in the past 10 years, but progress is limited partially due to lack of interest and involvement of private sectors. A safe agri-food value chain governance model from policy studies was proposed. Consolidating the certification system, digital traceability service and public-private partnership are mandatory requirements in the governance model. (VAAS, Vietnam)
- Five planning tools highlighting stakeholder participation, healthy and mindful consumption were developed in designing a value based and sustainable commodity chain. A value chain design with a chicken protein product at KU organic farm was demonstrated. (KU, Thailand)
- To promote Japanese agricultural standards (JAS) and contribute to ensuring food safety/ quality. facilitating transactions, and strengthening exporting Japanese agricultural products, the “Testing Method” in providing mark/ label of phytonutrient contents of agrifood products by accredited laboratories in Japan was implemented in parallel of ISO or other international accredited certifying body. (NARO, Japan)
- ‘Smart’ (or ‘nudge’) food labeling policy ‘at the point of purchase’ based on behavioral science (or economics) advises showed effective in healthy choice. Smarter food policies should be provided without going against the nature of smart consumers at the stage of making food choice decisions in order to achieve the intended policy goals. (KREI, Korea)
- The functional food market in Asia Pacific is predicted to double in values from US$51 billion in 2015 to US$104 billion in 2024. With substantial projected market values for functional foods in the next several decades, the R&D sector plays vital roles to identify and serve the future market needs through developing new value-added health products. (MARDI, Malaysia)
Major Findings and Recommendations from the Event
- Innovate agriculture by developing smart food supply chain with enormous emerging digital technologies.
- Apply Artificial Intelligence technology to innovate agriculture and develop new smart “tools” that can be used by smallholder family farmers in the Asia Pacific region.
- Develop smarter and cost-saving sea-shipping technologies for promoting export of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Organize and manage food safety value chain to ensure food safety and quality at all stages by consolidating the certification system and electronic traceability service.
- Identify consumer’s requirements for food quality, food safety as well as healthy foods in terms of quality standards and certification methods of agricultural commodities
- Develop “personal base nutrition and dietary advice” using personal data and food data with AI analysis; and consider “demand driven values” and create a relevant food supply chain.
- Encourage and promote consumer’s choices of healthier food including fruits and vegetables by utilizing behavioral economics and concept of “nudge”; develop smart food labelling policies, implement smart public campaigns, and strengthen private-public partnership.
- Nourish the post COVID-19 world and Rebuild new normal “Smart” and “Resilient” food production and supply chain by leveraging “smart” technologies, especially digital technologies, and other innovations and logistics.