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FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO Expert consultation on knowledge sharing for agricultural innovations applicable for smallholders and family farmers in Europe and Central Asia

Gödöllő, Hungary, 10/09/2018 - 13/09/2018

The State of Food and Agriculture: Innovation in family farming report (FAO, 2014) highlights that family farms are part of the solution for ensuring long-term global food security, rural poverty reduction and environmental sustainability. However, they need to be supported through adequate policies, competent institutions and capacities to innovate and thus, achieving those goals.

Therefore, promoting innovation in family farming is becoming a priority for politicians and policy makers around the world, including nations in Europe and Central Asia. Despite this fact, still very little is being done in transforming their knowledge systems from linear and centralized models towards inclusive, decentralized and pluralistic Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS) that would revolutionize the sector (FAO, 2012). This is not a simple task. Family farms across the region are extremely diverse in size, market and knowledge access and other characteristics, implying diversity in the policy options for agricultural innovation systems.

On its 39th session, the European Commission of Agriculture (ECA) , recognized the need for FAO to assist countries in developing capacities required by AIS actors in Europe and Central Asia, and need for a forum for countries in the region provided by FAO acting as a neutral broker for knowledge sharing on transforming the AISs in the Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia Region towards more efficient, inclusive, decentralized and pluralistic systems.

Furthermore, during the 41st session of the FAO Regional Conference for Europe (ERC ), the FAO member countries in Europe and Central Asia encouraged FAO to continue its efforts on knowledge sharing on policies and good practices, in particular with focus on smallholders and family farmers and provide a neutral regional platform on which to share knowledge and support the implementation of national e-agriculture strategies for countries in Europe and Central Asia.

The FAO Regional Conference for Europe (ERC) requested that FAO:

  1. continue to assist countries in Europe and Central Asia in transforming their agricultural sectors and leveraging the livelihoods of farmers, both women and men, through e-agriculture and to foster its responsible use through the three Regional Initiatives;
  2. collect and analyse good practices, tools and mechanisms in e-agriculture for knowledge sharing and provide policy advice and capacity development to maximize benefits and minimize risks;
  3. develop, in collaboration with national, regional and international partners, an inclusive capacity-development framework and strategy in e-agriculture; and 
  4. provide a neutral regional platform on which to share knowledge and support the implementation of national e-agriculture strategies for countries in Europe and Central Asia.

The expert consultation contributes to the FAO regional result 50472 on the establishment of a regional knowledge-sharing platform on innovations applicable for smallholders and family farms, and regional result 50504 enhancing capacities of regional organizations and e-agriculture networks, and supports REU Regional initiative 1: Empowering smallholders and family farms for improved rural livelihoods and poverty reduction.