SAP: Digitalizing is key to food security

Published November 30, 2021, 4:09 PM

by Emmie V. Abadilla


Digitalizing is key to Southeast Asia’s food future to address issues of security and wastage, according to an enterprise application software provider.

During the virtual briefing “A Growing ASEAN, A Hungry Population: Building Resilient and Sustainable Food Supply Chains”, enterprise application software provider SAP tackled the issue of food security and wastage. The event brought together business leaders in agriculture, manufacturing, distribution, logistics, including packaged fruit and snacks manufacturer Dole Asia Holdings and agri-business firm Loc Troi Group.

It was emphasized at the forum that around a third of all food produced – 1.3 billion tons – is lost or wasted every year contributing 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Verena Siow, president & managing director, SAP Southeast Asia, pointed out that empowering food producers with the right tools to meet the growing demand for food and combating food wastage are critical for challenges in the region – areas where technology and digitalization play a critical role.

“As a start, we need to better utilize the food we produce to minimize wastage. Food security and sustainability is more of a resource management challenge, where technology can be a change agent,” the executive pointed out.

Forecasting demand through big data can deliver food in a timely manner, improve supply chain efficiency and reduce food scarcity, Siow added.

“Minimalism is at the heart of our green habits towards zero food loss,” noted Leonardo Rabelo, Chief Financial Officer of Dole Asia Holdings.

“Technology in Agriculture or Agtech is vital in shaping our progressive and proactive waste reduction agenda,” he elaborated.

“The in-farm Internet of Things (IoTs), phase tracking and end-to end digitalization will be the new super powers to improve our quality and overall product value and reduce waste.”

Dole makes banana puree and frozen banana to upcycle and achieve zero fruit waste.

Digitalization also aids food growers, not just manufacturers, especially in ASEAN’s import and export-dependent nations.

Farmers and food producers increase yields and gain better real-time data on the health conditions of their crops via greater technology and finance support.

At present, Loc Troi works with more than 200,000 rice farmers in Vietnam, targeting 1 million farmers in 2024, on top of an annual rice milling capacity of 6 million tonnes, says Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Duy Thuan.

“We leverage our foundation in agricultural knowledge in developing new crop varieties and resource-saving farming methods, along with applying technologies like drones and hospital mobile apps to provide consultancies for rice and fruit farmers,” he elaborated.

They use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to forecast yields, pests, and disease risks.

In addition, “Loc Troi is working with farmers to obtain crop planting area codes and traceability through QR codes to promote Vietnam’s agricultural products in international markets,” Nguyen maintained.

Loc Troi underwent a digital transformation with SAP S/4HANA in 2020 to standardize processes to follow international best practices, improve planning capacity, track activities across its business, and maximize agriculture competitiveness.

As ASEAN’s food businesses globalize, a resilient food value chain is vital for growth.

This means greater integration and collaboration across partners, along with digital supply chains that grant visibility across their partners’ operations and their own.