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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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Broader Social Context Key to Success at G20 Agriculture Summit this Week

September 12, 2011 |

Coordinating policies, R&D and activities among a vast swath of international, national and smaller-scale agricultural research and development organizations and programs may be the greatest challenge to G20 agriculture ministers meeting in Montpelier, France this week.

“How do we spread the knowledge not just from China and Brazil but from suppliers, informational technology providers,” executive secretary of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research¬†Mark Holderness was quoted as saying to The Guardian.

“Not just scientific knowledge, but innovations and practices that can be shared and made relevant to farmers. The core message of the meeting is that the G20 recognizes the importance of agricultural research. It’s good it’s happening at all, but we are looking for not just more talk but action.”

With two major food crises breaking out across the globe in the last four years, the G20 agriculture meeting has four primary aims: 1. Increased cooperation and coordination of research policies and programs on food security; 2. Effective and innovative research partnerships for development and better impact of research from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research; 3. Stronger capacities in agriculture technologies for poor countries and synergies between G20 agricultural research systems; and 4. Greater involvement of the G20 agricultural research systems in the second global conference on agricultural research for development (Gcard), slated for Uruguay in 2012.

Ag ministers “should be asking themselves what impact they will have on a woman farmer in Kenya with a few acres, who is struggling to grow crops on semi-arid soil to feed her family and generate an income for school revenues,” when they discuss food security and self-reliance, The Guardian’s Mark Tran writes.

The ag ministers and their staff need to focus in on “innovation in a broader social context,” Holderness believes, particularly greater inclusion of women and overcoming socio-cultural barriers to knowledge sharing and communication.

“We have to bring in women at the start – there is access to microfinance, access to water for sharing, schemes for producers to organize themselves for access to markets. The technology is essential but not sufficient in itself.”

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