Director-General  QU Dongyu
A statement by FAO Director-General QU Dongyu

Enhancing access to innovation in agriculture to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

6 November, 2019


Dear Mark Keenum, President of Mississippi State University, ladies and gentlemen,

Today, I am very delighted to welcome Mark as my guest, to talk and share his experience. He has very similar experience to what I have. Five years ago he was Undersecretary of USDA. Then he became the president of the university. I was a little bit surprised he also took on his travels his Interim Vice President for Research. Normally the president of a university travels alone, that’s an American custom. He did it a little bit differently which is also innovation.

We appreciate his cooperation with FAO since 9 years ago. I welcome him because we want to build up closer relations with academic institutions all over the world as I promised to you. It should be open door and reform of FAO driven by external push.

First we have to unleash our mindset and our way of thinking. That’s very important because a lot of people gain more and more experience, start to depend on that experience. In the end, they have a problem of communication with their grandson, grandfather and their son and their daughter, among their relatives - because the problem is you are out of step. So we need continued lifelong learning and as FAO staff, I encourage you to learn, work together, learn together and contribute together.

On my first day when I visited you in the corridor and your offices, this is what I asked you, and I will follow those words that I say, and I will keep my action of what I said.

So I don’t want to mention too much and take too much time because my understanding of innovation in agriculture is that it’s a way to enhance the effectiveness, competitiveness and resilience with limited land, limited resources. Only innovation is the ultimate solution for us. Even the very drought areas in the world, if you can offer them an innovative approach, you still have a chance to build up sustainable agriculture or sustainable development.

Second, I think at FAO we need innovation together with all the Members.

And third I think it’s also a fundamental innovation goal to help small holder farmers and family farmers and all these people we serve. But small holder farmers are facing more challenges. That’s why I initiated the first Hand-in-Hand initiative because without quick progress of development, there will be no stable peace around the globe. So I think the FAO mandate requests us innovation, and the people we serve requests us to build in a more innovative way to do business. And of course, all the innovative institutions they are building on should be transferring their innovative outcomes to the people who need.

So for that, President Mark Keenum, you have a lot of thoughts and a lot of experience and we want to listen and share and learn from you.

Thank you!