• Paul Voutier, Mobile Agriculture Manager

Reflections on the Grow Asia Forum 2017

SINGAPORE: As a new member of the Grow Asia team it was great to begin by attending the Grow Asia Forum 2017 and meeting the people that are making Grow Asia’s partnerships possible.

For me, the highlight of the event was one of the interactive breakout sessions which explored the future of farm-to-plate food systems in the region. In a small group, we were invited to think about how technology might allow food systems to become more connected while considering how, at the same time, consumption might become more resource efficient.

I had always imagined that food systems simply develop to reflect the needs of the various actors; consumers, farmers and the companies that connect the two. Instead, the session highlighted the opposite: we choose the system that we end up with.

It was wonderful to sit in a room of government, business, farmer and civil society leaders and join them in wrestling with the future we want to have. While we recognized the forces of self-interest, technology and environmental limits, our group expressed a real hope that within those limits we do have choices.

Something that really stood out to me was the need for consumption to become less resource intensive. There is a real opportunity for all sectors to work together and realize a future with not just less waste, but diets lower in sugar and animal protein. Perhaps new technologies can help consumers realize the impact of their diet, and allow them to make informed decisions about their impact. One sector alone can’t create this change, highlighting the value of the Grow Asia Forum in bringing together traditionally disparate groups to build connections, trust and to share new ideas.

I hope my work on Grow Asia’s digital platform for farmers will, in some small way, help form a food system which is not just the product of market forces, but a reflection of the values of the communities in the region.

View photos from the Grow Asia Forum 2017.

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