International Conference to Discuss New Technologies, Innovations, and Knowledge to Improve Agriculture and Livelihoods

Addis Ababa—Close to 200 policymakers, researchers, and representatives from the private sector, farmers’ organizations, and other civil society groups are gathering for an international conference to discuss exciting technological, institutional, and organizational innovations that are transforming agriculture, reducing poverty and hunger, and improving people’s lives. The conference, Advancing Agriculture in Developing Countries through Knowledge and Innovation is organized by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and will be held here from April 7-9.

In many countries, development is blocked by inappropriate agricultural technologies, serious problems with the organization and management of agricultural systems, and immense institutional constraints, including insufficient human and financial resources. “Many developing countries face major barriers to agricultural growth and rural development,” said Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere, who heads IFPRI’s International Service for National Agricultural Research. “Despite these obstacles, there is good news to report. Many successful agricultural innovations are occurring for the benefit of poor smallholders, food-insecure households, and other vulnerable groups.”

Some success stories that will be showcased during the conference include:

  • A farmer-led, market-driven extension system in India that empowers farmers and rural women and helps them diversify into high-value crops, and demand-driven extension services that promote technology adoption in Uganda and Nigeria.
  • Fruitful use of new technologies released by the private sector, including insect-resistant cotton adopted by smallholder farmers in India and China.
  • Marking organizations that help farming communities bargain collectively for better prices in the marketplace.
    • Innovative technology transfer approaches and strategies to enhance the impact of agricultural research on rural livelihoods in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian government is very committed to improving the agriculture sector by modernizing, commercializing, and consequently making it highly productive and profitable through the sustainable use of natural resources and promotion of successful technological innovations,” said Dr. Solomon Assefa, Director General, Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. “As an outcome of these innovations, we have achieved significant growth in our economy and improvement in the livelihoods of farmers and other rural Ethiopians.”

In addition to highlighting success stories, conference participants will also discuss how successful innovations can be scaled up or replicated, how innovation occurs among smallholders and what can be done to further promote it, and important lessons that can be learned from past experiences and new reforms.

Under the current condition of high global food prices, new initiatives to accelerate agricultural innovation and improve small-scale farmers’ access to technology, inputs, and markets are vital for growth and poverty reduction in developing countries,” said Joachim von Braun, Director General of IFPRI. “By identifying and promoting better research, policies, and extension systems, this conference will ultimately help to improve the livelihoods of smallholders throughout the developing world.”

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The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI is one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations.

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