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From agritech to sustainability in food and agriculture

The 6th International Agriculture Innovation Conference 2021 (IAIC 2021) successfully took place from 3rd to 4th September 2021. IAIC 2021 brought together over 100 global agriculture academics, researchers, leaders, specialists, and entrepreneurs from 28 universities and 32 countries to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges, exchange ideas and explore new opportunities in and for the agriculture industry.

In IAIC2021, we are honoured to have Dr. Ruben Echeverria, the Chair at Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (COSAI), and Mr. Sumito Yasuoka, who is the Councillor of Forestry and Fisheries at the Ministry of Agriculture, Japan to be the keynote speakers. They shared their expertise and views of the innovation investments made in sustainable agriculture for the Global South, as well as the challenges for the Japanese agriculture industry.

Dr. Cheng-I Wei, Chairman of International Association of Agricultural Sustainability (IAAS), highlighted in his welcome speech that amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, he felt the deep need to help agriculture entrepreneurs and farmers face challenges in global climate change and global warming. Climate change and erratic weather patterns will impact farming and crop yield across the globe. Unsustainable agricultural and industrial practices have also led to a loss of arable land.

He also mentioned: “we understand that Sustainability of Agribusiness is to seeking the innovation of agribusiness’ inheritance. The industrialists also highlighted the importance of technology and innovation, which is transforming the way food is grown and produced. For instance, the emergence of ‘smart farming’ and data analytics enabled precision agriculture, allowing farmers to optimise production by precisely controlling and monitoring the growing conditions.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), farming as the family enterprise represents 80 per cent of farms globally. They play a crucial role in the economic growth of both developed and developing countries. To involve a new generation and adopt new trends, family farms must begin to transform from the traditional agricultural model into an agribusiness model. One of the highlights at IAIC 2021 was the panel discussion on Family Enterprise in Agriculture, in particular its limited structure and its problems in advanced capitalist economies.

During the panel discussion, Dr. Annie Koh, Professor Emeritus at Singapore Management University highlighted that the family businesses are in need of flexibility, efficiency, modernisation and innovation, especially in the agriculture industry.

She also advocated Singapore’s strategic geographical location with its well-developed capital markets and financial system, which can help Japanese entrepreneurs develop regional or global businesses. Without strong, reliable capital, businesses cannot remain sustainable in spite of advances in agricultural technology.

Other highlights at IAIC2021 include trending topics in recent years: Fermentation Science and Branding for Wineries, Protein Revolution, Agri-Product International Branding, Knowledge-based Farmer and Halal Product.

Dr. Wee-Liang Tan, Secretary General of IAAS, Associate Professor at Singapore Management University said that while climate change may be threatening international food security, agriculture is also singled out for its contribution to climate change through the production of greenhouse gases.

The International Agriculture Innovation Conference (IAIC) is a series of annual international conferences on Agriculture Innovation that has been running since 2016. IAIC 2021 is in its 6th year of running, and online for the second, which was jointly organised by the International Association of Agricultural Sustainability (IAAS) and Waseda University Business School (WBS).

IAAS serves as an international platform for academicians, researchers, industry players and policy makers in the fields of agri-technology, sustainability, food technology, innovation, management and economics to communicate and interact for the advancement of research, instruction, trade promotion and policy development.

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