The Knowledge, Capacity, and Innovation Division (formerly ISNAR) works to improve the functioning of food and agriculture systems by facilitating knowledge management—the creation, accumulation, sharing, and utilization of knowledge—and developing the capacity for innovation by all actors along the food and agriculture value chain. Fostering innovation means investing in agricultural science and technology, research and extension, education and training, and farmer organizations and other local institutions. The division strengthens the capacity of organizations and individuals involved in generating and disseminating new knowledge, producing the next cadre of actors in the food and agriculture value chain, and organizing the creation and marketing of agricultural products. In combination with indigenous knowledge, new findings, and technology, the division uses appropriate institutional and policy arrangements to promote increased productivity and competitiveness of agriculture and to improve the livelihoods of smallholder operators in rural areas of developing countries.
Now, more than ever, knowledge management is a key factor in development, and this trend is likely to increase. In the twenty first century, knowledge accumulation and application will drive development processes forward. Knowledge management should permeate all activities in the food and agriculture value chain to increase the technical and economic efficiency of agricultural systems. Research and development (R&D) organizations often fail to achieve their goals because they have not embraced knowledge management concepts.
The reasons for this failure are manifold. Some governments do not place enough emphasis on agricultural research and development and, as a result, economic growth and poverty reduction stagnate. Other countries suffer from weak institutional capacities because they have been beset by political and other crises or outmoded customs and practices. Policy and institutional innovations are required to generate, accumulate, and disseminate technology and information and to ensure that they are used to find solutions in food and agriculture systems.