Innovation at FAO

Innovation is essential to achieve a #ZeroHunger world.
Innovation is key to agricultural development. Realizing the potential of agricultural innovation requires a stronger and better connection between research and extension systems, other knowledge institutions and farmers and their organizations.
Innovation is not just about technology. It is also - and perhaps most importantly - about social, economic, institutional/organizational processes and policies that make a difference in the lives of family farmers.
Innovation is key to feed a growing population and face the challenge of climate change; we need innovative solutions to intensify agricultural production in a sustainable way.
Innovation can support smallholders and family farmers and increase their productivity and profitability.
Innovation creates global solutions. FAO is working to bring together the public and private sector, young entrepreneurs and civil society to innovate and create the best solutions for the global challenges.
Innovation can help unlock the potential of agri-business. It can help to bridge the rural divide and empower women and youth to access information, technology and markets.

Why Innovation matters?

FAO believes that innovation, in general and particularly in agriculture, is the central driving force for achieving a world free from hunger and malnutrition.

Innovation is usually perceived as related to technology. In fact, innovation is broader than that. Agricultural innovation is the process whereby individuals or organizations bring new or existing products, processes or ways of organization into use for the first time in a specific context, to increase effectiveness, competitiveness and resilience with the goal of solving a problem. FAO plays a key role in promoting the importance of innovation in agriculture to increase food security, sustainable development and promote rural development.

FAO’s role in agricultural innovation

Innovation in agriculture cuts across all dimensions of the production cycle and along the entire value chain - from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs to market access. FAO assists member countries in unlocking the potential of innovation to drive socio-economic growth, ensure food and nutrition security, alleviate poverty and improve resilience to climate change, thereby helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Because innovation is a complex process where governments and other key stakeholders play different roles, FAO focuses on a system-wide approach.

For example, FAO and its partners are working in nine pilot countries in Africa, Asia and Central America to bring international, national and local partners together to construct and implement capacity development plans for agricultural innovation. FAO is also supporting governments to develop strategies that foster sustainable agricultural mechanization and works with small-scale enterprises, cooperatives and local organizations to ensure smallholder farmers have access to mechanized services.

FAO also plays a key role in advocating and promoting the importance of agricultural innovation to increase food security, sustainable development and promote rural development. As part of this role, FAO hosted the International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers. This Symposium was attended by over 540 participants, including representatives from 92 member countries and other key stakeholders in agricultural innovation. The Symposium recognized the central role that family farmers play in agricultural innovation.

The role of digital innovation in agriculture

FAO harnesses the power of digital technologies to pilot, accelerate and scale innovative ideas with high potential for impact in food and agriculture, transforming digital solutions and services into global public goods. It aims to explore the responsible application and adoption of existing and frontier technologies, design and scale new services, tools and approaches to empower rural households and inspire youth entrepreneurship in food and agriculture.



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