Innovation in agriculture vital to address future food challenges

Family farmers represent nearly 800 million people and have long been agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators. Photo : RR

Johannesbourg, South Africa (ADV) – The United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization’s Director-General (FAO) has told the opening session of the first International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers (ISAIFF) that rapid advances in agricultural innovation that address climate change and support family farmers are crucial if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved.

According to FAO, the International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers: Unlocking the potential of agricultural innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is a direct and firm response to member countries’ enthusiastic encouragement for the institution to play a strong catalytic and supporting role to empower family farmers through innovation.

Innovation is the central driving force which will transform food systems, lift family farmers out of poverty and help the world to achieve food security, sustainable agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Symposium will provide inspiration for innovation actors and decision-makers and, among other things, will celebrate inspiring success stories of innovators, acting as catalyst for boosting partnerships as well as public and private investments to foster and scale up agricultural innovation.
“We are seeking to develop solutions that can be easily, cheaply, and sustainably replicated across countries and regions,” said José Graziano da Silva.

Family farmers represent nearly 800 million people and have long been agricultural entrepreneurs and innovators. They manage about 75 percent of the world’s agricultural land and produce about 80 percent of the world’s food. Fostering their capacity to innovate is especially crucial today to meet the future food demands from a projected population of nearly 10 billion people in 2050, in the context of a changing climate.

“We need to increase our understanding of the innovation drivers and processes. We also need to look for concrete solutions, identify priority interventions and develop strategies to scale up successful experiences,” added Da Silva

Inga Rhonda King, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), weighed in highlighting the importance of innovation for family farmers.

“Innovating for family farmers and addressing the factors that impede transitions to diversified agro-ecological systems must become a higher priority. Technology alone cannot provide answers to global challenges nor empower family farmers, but it can increase options and make it easier to deploy effective solutions. It is essential to ensure that technology serves the poor, aims toward inclusive development and is used to enable people to deal with risks and vulnerabilities,” she said.

Paul Winters, Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) mentioned that, “the coming decade will determine the shape of global and national food systems for generations to come. We need agricultural innovation that creates a food system that has adapted to climate change and is sustainable,” he said.

© Bur-csa – A.H – Oumaima Mourtada / From our regional correspondent Mkhululi Chimoio – African Daily Voice (ADV) – Follow us on Twitter : @ADVinfo_eng