The agriculture sector in Southeast Asia (SEA) plays a pivotal role in driving the region’s socioeconomic transformation, as highlighted by studies in the December 2023 edition of the Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD). However, these studies also bring attention to the sector’s exposure to risks and challenges.

In a paper titled “Back in the Soup: Now What?”, food security expert C. Peter Timmer explores the outlook of the global rice market. Timmer addresses concerns about a potential rice crisis due to attacks on Ukraine’s food export infrastructure and the onset of a severe El Niño in Asian rice-producing regions. Timmer recommends that governments stabilize expectations to avert a crisis by maintaining a reasonable interaction with market players.

Another paper by Jose Ma Luis Montesclaros and Paul Teng of Nanyang Technological University discusses the adoption of digital technology in Southeast Asian agriculture. The authors propose a common framework for understanding digital technology’s role in addressing challenges related to food security, income, trade, and employment in the region.

Examining the role of youth in farming, Kringle Marie Mercado and Henny Osbahr explore Filipino youth’s perceptions of agriculture. The study suggests intervention programs starting early in the youth curriculum to cultivate interest in the industry and encourage engagement in its professions.

In West Bengal, India, Apurba Kumar Chattopadhyay and Raj Kumar Kundu discuss the transition from agriculture to non-agricultural occupations, advocating for measures like reverse tenancy and cooperative farming to facilitate this shift.

Fayaz Ahmad Lone and co-authors analyze the economic and profitability aspects of walnut production in Kashmir Valley, India, recommending policy interventions to improve access to extension services, credit, and farmer training programs.

Jordan Calura and co-authors assess the potential loss of productive lands under agricultural land conversion in Pura, Tarlac, Philippines. The study suggests that with appropriate soil management, the land can be highly suitable for crop production, benefiting both agriculture and land conversion.

In a commentary by Robert Zimdahl, the lack of consideration for ethical dilemmas in the agricultural science curriculum is highlighted. Zimdahl argues that agriculture requires a defined moral foundation to address ethical concerns and prevent negative consequences for society.

The studies presented in AJAD offer insights into the challenges and opportunities facing Southeast Asia’s agriculture sector. As the region aims to sustain its role as a global producer and exporter, addressing these issues becomes crucial for the sector’s long-term success.