FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

Countries in the Near East and North Africa region face numerous common challenges to achieving improved food security, nutrition and inclusive agricultural development. Recurrent natural disasters; conflicts and protracted crises; frequent droughts and flash floods; expanding population growth rates; growing urbanization; limited and fragile natural resources, are all factors affecting the ambitions of countries in the region to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires a radical shift in the way food is produced, transformed and consumed. It is essential to innovate and attract the investments that are necessary to accelerate agricultural transformation and make agriculture an attractive business for farmers, in particular youth and women.

Innovating for sustainable future of food and agriculture

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 agro-processing and to market access. It may involve, for instance planting new crop varieties, combining traditional practices with new scientific knowledge, applying new pest control and post-harvest practices or engaging with markets in new, more rewarding ways.

Innovation holds the key to making farming and the entire agrifood value chain more attractive, creating business and employment opportunities and helping the Near East and North Africa region to achieve food security, sustainable agriculture and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The forum

FAO along with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in partnership with other International Organizations, are organizing the forum to discuss innovative approaches, investments and technological tools and resources to tackle the challenges facing the agriculture sector in the Near East and North Africa regions and beyond.

The forum will provide inspiration for practitioners, entrepreneurs and decision-makers and will celebrate inspiring success stories of innovators, acting as catalyst for boosting partnerships and investments to foster and scale up agri-food systems innovation.


  1. Serve as a global knowledge and partnership platform to understand the potential of innovation in agriculture to address the SDGs.
  2. Increase understanding of the drivers of innovation and the main constraints;
  3. Propose processes, pathways and interventions needed to unlock the potential of innovation in agriculture and scaling up inclusive innovations;
  4. Create an enabling environment for youth to find innovative solutions for transforming agriculture in the region;
  5. Act as a catalyst for boosting partnerships as well as public and private investments to foster and scale up agricultural innovation.


Emerging technologies for agricultural production and plant health

Innovation in practices and technologies can play a big role in developing the agricultural industry. This theme will shed the light on different technologies that include precision agriculture, hydroponics, early warning and crowd sourcing systems for the control of pests and diseases, desert agriculture, remote diagnostic, drones, gene editing, climate info services, digital extension and precision harvesting.

Harnessing Innovation for youth and women employment

Fostering an enabling innovative environment is pivotal for systematically reducing youth and women unemployment, rejuvenating the agricultural sector and creating new jobs along the value chain. The topics of discussion within this area include, access to funding, start-ups, business incubators, seed supply chain, insurance schemes, public access to Information and communication technologies and skills development.

Agrifood systems innovation for the transformation of markets and value chains

This theme covers the entire value chain, including the supply of agricultural inputs, the production and transformation of agricultural products, and their distribution to final consumers. This theme will focus inter alia on market linkages, organic labelling, traceability, bio packaging, smart supermarkets, waste management and others of relevance.

Harnessing broad categories of innovation

The forum will address the themes with a special focus on some of the latest emerging trends of innovation in the world and the region, which include:

  • Digital innovation, artificial intelligence and disruptive technology: 

How to harness the potential of internet, artificial intelligence, big data, remote sensing, and what technologies in agriculture and along the food chain can contribute to more inclusive, efficient and sustainable practices 

  • Social, institutional, organizational and policy innovation: 

Promoting policies and institutional mechanisms aiming at accelerating the pace towards more productive, sustainable, efficient and equitable value chains.

The forum and the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting

The forum will discuss how to increase agricultural productivity in a sustainable way and draft a series of concrete recommendations that will be presented to the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting planned to take place in Riyadh during November 2020. 


How to apply?

How to apply?

Please fill out one form, You can find the form here...



10 February 2020

Please note

Please note

  • All the logistical expenses related to travel and accommodation for the selected participants will be fully covered by the participant him/herself.
  • Only successful applicants will be contacted by email - to inform them that their expression of interest to attend the forum has been approved.
  • Successful applicants will receive this email about 16 February 2020, thereby allowing them to organize their visa and travel arrangements in time.
  • The total number of places for participants is limited.

Call for Success stories of Agricultural Innovation



One of the objectives of the international forum is to celebrate inspiring success stories of innovation and innovators through an Innovation Fair and technical sessions, which will display success stories of agricultural innovation for family farmers and/or by family farmers. Organizations, national institutions, research institutions, universities, NGOs, private sector are invited to share their success stories on innovation in agriculture.

The working definition of agricultural innovation that is used for the forum is: “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 in order to increase effectiveness, competitiveness, resilience to shocks or environmental sustainability and thereby contribute to food security and nutrition, economic development or sustainable natural resource management”.

Novelty is a key aspect of the definition, although the products, processes and ways of organization may already exist, they are new to the individuals or organizations who are bringing them into use for the first time and in the Near East and North Africa. It is a broad definition, which is not restricted to use of technologies but also to use of social, organizational, institutional or marketing processes or arrangements. It encompasses innovation in the agriculture sectors.

The focus themes of the Forum are emphasizing Emerging technologies and innovation for agricultural production and plant health; youth and women employment; and Agriculture and Food Systems innovation for markets and value chains. Therefore, it would be of preference if the success stories were capturing this in light of the broader innovation categories of artificial intelligence, technological & digital innovation and Organizational, policy, social & institutional innovation.



The aim of the Innovation Fair is to showcase success stories of agricultural innovation for family farmers and/or by family farmers.

Based on their wide experience and knowledge in different fields of expertise and regions, FAO, partners and stakeholders are invited to propose success stories for the Innovation Fair.

The success stories may involve examples where agricultural innovations were directly applied by family farmers themselves (e.g. they began using a new technology on their farms or a new way of marketing their produce) or where they were the indirect beneficiaries of a successful innovation (e.g. where new approaches were applied to research systems or extension services to make them more responsive to the needs of family farmers).

How to apply?

How to apply?

Please fill out one form for each proposal, providing in a concise way as much information as you can.

You can find the form here...



08 January 2020

Selection criteria for the success stories

Selection criteria for the success stories

  • Potential for scaling up with Impact at scale
  • Sustainability
  • Youth impact and gender employment
  • Transformative
  • Addressing major constrains
  • Smallholders aspect
  • ‘No harm’ policy

A selected number of cases will be chosen for the Innovation Fair. A Forum Task Force will be established, with the responsibility for the cases review and selection according to selection criteria (annexes) and organization of the fair.

If the success story is selected for the Innovation Fair, the presenter (or a representative from his/her organization) will be asked later to fill out all the remaining details in the form.

For more information, please contact [email protected] and [email protected].