Agriculture Leaders Call for ASEAN Food Systems to Embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution to Benefit Smallholder Farmers

11 Sep 2018

Fon Mathuros, Head of Media, World Economic Forum: Tel.: +41 (0)79 201 0211; Email:

· Leaders call for digital innovations in agriculture and partnerships to help Grow Asia scale its impact

· The Grow Asia partnership has now reached over 690,000 smallholder farmers in five countries and projects are helping farmers increase incomes by up to 80%

· For more information, please visit

Ha Noi, Vietnam, 11 September 2018 – Today, over 170 senior leaders and decision-makers in the agriculture industry gathered at the Grow Asia Forum 2018, co-hosted by the Grow Asia Partnership and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. The event took place alongside the World Economic Forum on ASEAN. Leaders defined strategies for agriculture in the region and shared a common goal of encouraging modernized agriculture sectors and food systems, which have smallholder farmers at the core of profitable, sustainable and growing supply chains.

Around 500 million smallholder farmers produce 80% of the food consumed in the developing world. There is a pressing need to ensure these farmers are equipped with the appropriate technologies, knowledge and skills to meet the increasing global demand for sustainable food.

“We hold enormous hope for digitization to transform the way smallholder farmers learn, communicate, and trade with agribusinesses” said Grahame Dixie, Executive Director, Grow Asia. “The past year has seen a real change in how our partners view digital technologies. At the Grow Asia Forum, we heard from large agribusinesses and start-ups alike, including Bayer, AgriMedia and Impact Terra, about how they are delivering greater profitably and sustainability to the sector.”

Grow Asia is a multi-stakeholder partnership platform which promotes the cross-regional sharing of knowledge and innovative solutions to improve the productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability of smaller-scale farmers. Its five country-led partnerships now operate 37 value chain projects, which are increasing smallholder farmers’ incomes by up to 80%. Over 480 partners are now involved, including governments, companies, farmers’ associations, civil society, international organizations and research institutes, and the network is reaching over 690,000 smallholder farmers.

H.E. Mr. Nguyen Xuan Cuong, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam said: “With Grow Asia’s support, we are very proud of the progress we have made in enhancing Vietnam’s agriculture sector and equipping smallholders with the tools and knowledge they need. We believe that digital solutions can address some of the key challenges faced by farmers in Vietnam, from creating safer farm produce to boosting exports and improving farmers’ living standards. We encourage partners to join our efforts in applying high-tech, smart agriculture for our farmers.”

There is a growing global interest in multi-stakeholder partnerships to instigate change. “Grow Asia provides businesses with a unique pre-competitive space where problems can be solved collectively,” said Olivier M. Schwab, Managing Director, Head of Business Engagement, World Economic Forum. “By embracing the positive changes being shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and encouraging inclusivity in agriculture supply chains, the Grow Asia network is tackling the issue of environmental sustainability while modernizing global food systems and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in ASEAN.”

In 2018, Grow Asia initiated its Digital Learning Series to act as a launch pad to encourage the testing, dissemination, and wide-spread uptake of digital tools. Grow Asia is producing resources to help its partners adopt a digital mindset, including a Digital Credit Scoring Guide, and facilitating action through events such as a Hackathon where participants ideated digital solutions which could be applied on small palm oil farms. The winner was formally announced at the Grow Asia Forum. Four major companies are now providing financing to test these ideas in the field.

Leaders at the Grow Asia Forum also explored the World Economic Forum’s Innovation with a Purpose report and emerging technological innovations that have the potential to drive rapid progress in the sustainability, inclusivity, efficiency, and health impacts of food systems. Grow Asia debuted a Knowledge Marketplace which provided participants with case studies of agricultural innovations, creative solutions and resources.

Grow Asia was established by the World Economic Forum in cooperation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat. For more information, see

The Grow Asia Partnership

Grow Asia is a multistakeholder partnership platform that aims to reach 10 million smallholder farmers by 2020, helping them access knowledge, technology, finance and markets to increase their productivity, profitability and environmental sustainability by 20%. Grow Asia brings together South-East Asia’s smallholders, governments, companies, NGOs and other stakeholders to develop inclusive and sustainable value chains that benefit farmers. It launches and supports locally-driven country partnerships, helping them define their strategy, engage new partners and develop innovative solutions. For more information, visit

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