AgriBusiness Asia Reports

Decarbonizing Asia’s Agri-Food Sector

The 2023 Asia Food Challenge Report outlines a $125 billion investment in technologies to cut Asia's agri-food emissions by 12%

The Asia Food Challenge Report 2023 has unveiled a comprehensive plan to decarbonize the agri-food sector across the Asian continent. Jointly released by PwC, Rabobank, Temasek, and Terrascope, the report presents over 20 technologies and practices that could significantly reduce carbon emissions if implemented effectively. With agriculture being a major emitter of greenhouse gases, the report’s findings highlight an urgent opportunity for investment, innovation, and collaboration.

Key Takeaways:
  1. Substantial Emissions Reduction Potential: The report identifies pathways that can cut approximately 12% of CO2e emissions from Asia’s agri-food sector, translating to around 840 million tonnes – the equivalent of the global aviation industry’s emissions in 2022.
  2. Investment Requirement: This reduction would require around $125 billion, mainly in farm-level technologies, machinery, infrastructure, and support for smallholder farms.
  3. Readiness of Technology: The technologies necessary for this transformation are already at a high level of readiness, meaning that immediate action is possible and should be prioritized over less developed technological solutions.
  4. Stakeholder Engagement: A multi-stakeholder approach is vital, with coordinated actions required from governments, corporations, investors, academia, and consumers to drive the transition.
  5. Profitability and Investment Opportunities: Implementing these technologies and practices not only has the potential to reduce emissions but also to increase the gross margin of farms by up to 16 percentage points, representing significant investment opportunities.
The Opportunity for Decarbonisation in Asia’s Agri-food Sector

Asia’s agri-food sector, while vital for the economy and sustenance of billions, is a considerable contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. As the report outlines, this sector in Asia contributes disproportionately to carbon emissions compared to its share of arable land worldwide. Critical emission areas include rice cultivation, fertilizer use, livestock rearing, food waste, and deforestation. The report underscores that immediate action can and should be taken, utilizing existing technologies and practices that are readily available.

Investing in Actionable Technologies

The investment required for transformation is substantial, but the rewards are promising. The report particularly emphasizes the role of micro-irrigation systems, appropriate on-farm machinery for smallholders, and digital platforms that can offer guidance and financial services to farmers. These investments not only reduce emissions but also enhance profitability for farmers across Asia.

Agri-food vs. Other Sectors

Compared to the energy or aviation sectors, which are often in the spotlight for their emissions, the agri-food sector represents a quicker and more cost-effective opportunity for emission reduction. The challenges here are less about technological breakthroughs and more about financial and social barriers, which are arguably more surmountable in the short term.

Engagement of Stakeholders Across the Value Chain

The report calls for a collective approach, suggesting that impactful change requires the participation of all stakeholders. For large corporations, addressing Scope 3 emissions (those in the value chain) becomes not just an environmental imperative but also a potential cost-saving and revenue-generating strategy.

Insights from Report Authors

The report’s authors stress the dual benefits of the proposed technologies: reduction in emissions and improvement in profitability. They advocate for prompt action to prioritize these solutions that not only address climate change but also strengthen food resilience and business margins. With an emphasis on digitalization, the authors believe in harnessing advanced technologies like machine learning and AI to refine emission measurement and reduction strategies.

The Asia Food Challenge Report 2023 serves as a call to action for immediate and coordinated efforts to decarbonize the agri-food sector in Asia. The identified technologies are not only ready to be deployed but also promise to improve the bottom line for businesses within the sector. As Asia grapples with the pressing demands of climate change and food security, this report provides a timely and actionable roadmap for a sustainable future.

About the Collaborating Organizations:
  • PwC is a global network offering services in assurance, advisory, and tax, aiming to solve significant problems and build trust in society.
  • Rabobank is a Dutch cooperative bank with a mission to foster sustainable food supply chains and address key food issues globally.
  • Temasek is an investment company with a purposeful vision to ensure future prosperity, actively investing in sustainable solutions.
  • Terrascope is a SaaS platform providing solutions for businesses to measure and reduce their carbon footprint effectively and efficiently.

By leveraging the insights and expertise of these organizations, Asia’s agri-food sector can embark on a transformative journey towards decarbonization, sustainability, and increased efficiency.

Photo by Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash 

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