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Aerni P.,University of Zürich | Aerni P.,Research and Extension Unit | Nichterlein K.,Research and Extension Unit | Rudgard S.,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations FAO | Sonnino A.,Research and Extension Unit
Sustainability (Switzerland) | Year: 2015

Agricultural innovation in low-income tropical countries contributes to a more effective and sustainable use of natural resources and reduces hunger and poverty through economic development in rural areas. Yet, despite numerous recent public and private initiatives to develop capacities for agricultural innovation, such initiatives are often not well aligned with national efforts to revive existing Agricultural Innovation Systems (AIS). In an effort to improve coordination and responsiveness of Capacity Development (CD) initiatives, the G20 Agriculture Ministers requested the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to lead the development of a Tropical Agricultural Platform (TAP), which is designed to improve coherence and coordination of CD for agricultural innovation in the tropics. This paper presents a summary of the results obtained from three regional needs assessments undertaken by TAP and its partners. The surveyed tropical regions were Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central America. The findings reveal a mismatch in all three regions between the external supply of primarily individual CD and the actual demand for institutional CD. The misalignment might be addressed by strengthening south-south and triangular collaboration and by improving the institutional capacities that would render national AIS more demand-oriented and responsive to the needs of smallholders in domestic agriculture. © 2015 by the authors.

Dargie J.D.,International Atomic Energy Agency | Ruane J.,Research and Extension Unit | Sonnino A.,Research and Extension Unit
Asian Biotechnology and Development Review | Year: 2013

FAO recently commissioned a unique series of 19 case studies where agricultural biotechnologies were used to serve the needs of smallholders in developing countries. Most involved a single crop, livestock or fish species and a single biotechnology. The biotechnologies covered include some that are considered quite traditional, such as artificial insemination and fermentation, as well as other more modern ones, such as the use of DNA-based approaches to detect pathogens, but not genetic modification. From the case studies, we have drawn ten general and interrelated lessons which can be used to inform and assist policy-makers when deciding on potential interventions involving biotechnologies for smallholders in developing countries. These include: the absolute necessity for government commitment and backing from donors and international agencies, and of partnerships, both nationally and internationally, and also with the farmers themselves in the planning and implementation of programmes while bearing in mind also the need to retain flexibility in order to respond appropriately to evolving circumstances; and the recognition that while long-term investments in science and technology are critical, the successful use of biotechnologies also requires their appropriate integration with other sources of science-based and traditional knowledge. For the 19 case studies, there were no indications that intellectual property issues, access to genetic resources or specific regulatory mechanisms constrained use of any of the biotechnologies or their products. It was also concluded that planning, monitoring and evaluation of biotechnology applications was weak and should be strengthened. © 2013, FAO.

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