$800 billion additional investment in the next 10 years will be needed to grow Asia’s food and agriculture industry to a sustainable size and to help Asia feed itself, according to a new report.

The report, ‘The Asia Food Challenge Report: Harvesting the Future’, was launched by the major global companies — PwC, Rabobank and Temasek — during the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Week, here on Wednesday.

Around $550 billion of this will enable key requirements around sustainability, safety, health and convenience. The remaining $250 billion will help increase food production to feed the growing population of Asia.

“Asia is at crossroads. On the one hand, current lack of investment, slow development and low use of technology across the food and agriculture supply chain have held us back and left us dependent on others,” said Richard Skinner, Asia Pacific Deals Strategy and Operations Leader, PwC Singapore.

“On the other, we can reverse that by being at the forefront of technological innovation, disruption and use, transforming the industry and bringing benefits to the consumer, returns to corporates and investors and value adding jobs across Asia,” Skinner said.

The investments will unlock market growth of around 7 per cent per year, with the region more than doubling its total spend on food to over $8 trillion by 2030. This presents a huge opportunity for corporations and investors to invest in Asia’s agri-food industry by placing a stronger focus on promising high-impact innovations.

As countries around the world grapple with food shortage and effects of climate change, the report addresses the challenges and opportunities that Asia’s agri-food industry face.

The region is urbanising rapidly. By 2030, it will be home to approximately 250 million more people with growing appetite for healthy food, that’s sourced sustainably and ethically.

According to Ping Chew, Asia Head of RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness, Rabobank, Asia needs innovation and technology to transform its agri-food system into one that is ecologically and economically sustainable.

“Only through working together with shared responsibility and acting now can Asia feed itself while preserving the planet for future generations,” Chew said.

The report identifies technology as a critical enabler in meeting these demands, which will require significant investments across the industry.

According to the report, to overcome these challenges, greater collaboration and shared responsibility between the public and private sectors in the region must be established.

One key way is to establish agri-food innovation centres to bring together relevant market players in the ecosystem, such as Tel Aviv, St Louis, San Francisco and Rotterdam.

These would involve the public sector fostering a suitable environment for startups, corporations and investors, and the private sector being a critical driving force.

Several Asian cities, such as Beijing, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Singapore and Tokyo, also have the potential to become agri-food innovation hubs.IANS