Agricultural Innovation in Developing East Asia: Productivity, Safety, and Sustainability

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Rajalahti R.

Agricultural innovation has played a critical role in the economic transformation of developing East Asian countries over the past half century. The Green Revolution—in the form of modern seed varieties, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and modern machinery—has contributed to increased crop yields and farm incomes, and decreased poverty across the region. Although policy makers’ traditional focus on expanding and intensifying agricultural production has brought many benefits, the focus on productivity has come at a rising cost. The environmental sustainability of agricultural production is increasingly under threat. Moreover, as countries in the region have become more urbanized and demand for processed foods has risen, inadequate food safety systems and related food safety hazards have created a new form of food insecurity. As detailed in Agricultural Innovation in Developing East Asia: Productivity, Safety, and Sustainability, a new generation of innovation in agriculture has the potential to address the challenges of productivity, sustainability, and food safety to deliver a “triple win.” To make the most of this promising wave of agricultural innovations, policy makers in the region will need to act to strengthen countries’ agricultural innovation systems. This effort will require a cross-cutting approach, including policy and institutional reforms, improved governance of countries’ agri-food systems, and efforts to build farmers’ and firms’ capacities to adopt new technologies and to innovate.

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Agri-food systems
innovation in agricultural transformation
resilience and sustainable and safe growth
institutional capacity for innovation