Rapid acceleration of digitalization in rural communities in Asia and the Pacific is critical for regaining momentum towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs), government policy makers agreed at the conclusion of a daylong event, convened on Monday by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).
More than 200 participants joined the virtual ‘FAO Digital Village Knowledge Sharing and Dialogue,’ a regional follow-up to advance collective knowledge on implementing digital technologies across rural landscapes, in towns and villages across the Asia-Pacific region.
The event was convened in support of FAO’s 1,000 Digital Village Initiative, launched at FAO headquarters in January 2021.
FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said that the aim of the Asia-Pacific pilot programme was to learn from many countries' successful experiences and good practices and share these experiences with others.
The event highlighted how the rapid spread of internet access and applications of digital technologies in the region’s agricultural rural areas have resulted in better production, better nutrition, mitigation of damage to the environment and overall improvements to livelihoods of millions of people in the vast Asia-Pacific region.
The FAO Director-General addressed the event and government Ministers from various countries across the region gave accounts of good practices and methodologies in place in their rural communities and villages to leverage latest digital technologies to improve production and livelihoods of all, particularly farmers, fishers and herders.
Among the high level participants in the event were Bangladesh’s Minister of Agriculture, Muhammad Abdur Razzaque; Syahrul Yasin Limpo, Minister of Agriculture of Indonesia; Zagdjav Mendsaikhan; Mongolia’s Minister for Food, Agriculture and Light Industry; Chung Hwang-keun, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs from the Republic of Korea and La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao Fosi Schmidt, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries of Samoa.
“In Asia and the Pacific, there are several models to develop and foster the digitalization of rural areas”. He cited countries including China and India, where he said digitalization of rural areas is extensive. “FAO has a critical role to play in offering this knowledge to our Members in a useful and usable way, including through new tools and methodologies to carry out field studies when needed,” Qu added. Examples of successful digital villages from several countries in Asia were showcased, many through vivid stories from the ground. In Bangladesh, digital services and solutions to support farming and empower rural women are being deployed, leveraging increased access and use of smartphones and internet.