Innovations in agriculture cut across all dimensions of the production cycle along the entire value chain - from crop, forestry, fishery or livestock production to the management of inputs and resources and market access. Innovation is not just about technology. It is also about social, economic, institutional, behavioural, organizational and policy processes, business models and innovative financing. These elements, in combination or in isolation, can have a positive impact on the production, nutrition, environment and livelihoods of people, notably smallholder farmers, fishers, and forest-dependent communities.
The Office of Innovation (OIN) was created in December 2019 in order to consolidate and strengthen FAO's innovative spirit, including innovation of mindset and innovation of cooperation models. Technological, social, policy, institutional, and financial innovations are considered relevant and applicable throughout agrifood systems.
Innovation is the central driving force that will transform agrifood systems, lift millions of people out of poverty and help the world to achieve food security and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Due to their scale and ambition, the SDGs require both innovation in development and innovation for development. Science and innovation are identified as key tools for SDG implementation. Similarly the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31 considers science and innovation as a central driving force for achieving a world free from hunger and malnutrition. Innovations in technological, institutional, social, policy and financial dimensions throughout agri-food systems are considered as accelerators to enhance effectiveness and impact of the FAO Programme Priority Areas (PPAs) under the four betters.
The Office of Innovation ensures that FAO mainstreams innovation in its programmes; facilitates cross-collaboration between the various FAO units; and aids in forging and reinforcing transformative partnerships.
The office currently has three units that form its structure including: the Secretariat of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR), the Research and Extension Unit, and the Innovation in Digital Agriculture Unit. The office also has a focus on behavioural science, considered a key discipline in agricultural development.
GFAR Secretariat, hosted at the FAO Headquarters, is made up of a small team that works to help partners plan, facilitate, implement and distil learnings from the Collective Actions.
The team’s focus areas are:
The Global AgriInno Challenge (GAC) 2021
The GAC 2021, co-organized by FAO and Zhejiang University, aims to encourage youth and women to harness innovation, entrepreneurship, and technologies to address challenges related to the transformation of rural villages into "Digital Villages" that contribute to the four betters.
Digital Agriculture Report: Rural e-commerce Development Experience from China
This publication, produced by FAO and Zhejiang University, examines how rural e-commerce could advance the digital transformation of agrifood systems, including increasing production, expanding farmers’ access to markets, accelerating efforts to alleviate poverty, fostering agricultural entrepreneurship, and creating incentives for young generations to return to rural areas to revive economies.