Call for representatives of non-state actors to express an interest in attending

The FAO International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers: Unlocking the potential of agricultural innovation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals will take place at FAO Headquarters, Rome on 21-23 November 2018.

Agricultural innovation is the process whereby individuals or organisations bring new or existing products, processes or ways of organisation 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 innovation. The products, processes or ways of organisation that are brought into use (i.e. the innovations) may already exist elsewhere but the key issue is that they are being used by these individuals or organisations for the first time. Also, it is not restricted to use of technologies but also to use of social, organisational, institutional or marketing processes or arrangements.

Innovation in agriculture cuts 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, to organization and market access. It may, for instance, involve planting new crop varieties, combining traditional practices with new scientific knowledge, applying new approaches for managing animal diseases control and post-harvest practices or engaging with markets in new, more rewarding ways.

Family farming (which includes all family-based agricultural activities) is a means of organizing agricultural, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production which is managed and operated by a family and predominantly reliant on family labour, including both women’s and men’s. The family and the farm are linked, co-evolve and combine economic, environmental, social and cultural functions.[1]

The international symposium will be a dynamic multistakeholder and multidisciplinary forum aimed at understanding the socio-economic potential of innovation, its key drivers, processes and impact pathways through exchange of knowledge, information and practices, reviewing of enabling policies and platforms, and the development of potential partnerships and action plans.

Objectives of the symposium are to:

  1. Serve as a global knowledge and partnership platform to better understand the potential of innovation in agriculture to address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a special focus on supporting smallholder and family farmers;
  2. Increase understanding of the drivers of innovation and the main constraints to innovation for family farmers;
  3. Propose processes, pathways and interventions needed to unlock the potential of innovation in agriculture for family farmers and scaling up inclusive innovations;
  4. Celebrate inspiring success stories of innovation and innovators in family farming;
  5. Act as a catalyst for boosting partnerships as well as public and private investments to foster and scale up agricultural innovation.

The symposium takes a multisectoral approach, encompassing innovation in the different production systems and value chains of the crop, livestock, forestry and fishery sectors. About 400 participants are expected to attend. Participants in the meeting will be representatives of governments, intergovernmental organizations and of non-state actors.

The term ‘non-state actors’ refers to civil society organizations; producer organizations and cooperatives; private sector entities (including philanthropic foundations); and academia and research institutions.


[1] FAO. 2014. The State of Food and Agriculture: Innovation in family farming. http://www.fao.org/publications/sofa/2014/en/

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