Ensuring the full participation of family farmers in agricultural innovation systems: The role of ICTs

FAO hosted an e-mail conference from 4 June to 1 July 2012 on "Ensuring the full participation of family farmers in agricultural innovation systems: Key issues and case studies". Nearly 600 people subscribed and 114 people from nearly 50 different countries wrote messages in which they discussed the topic and shared case studies and lessons learned.

The Summary Document is available online. The role of ICT is highlighted as follows:

“The positive role that the rapid and revolutionary developments in ICTs can play to ensure that family farmers may fully participate in AIS was probably the single issue that attracted most attention throughout the conference. Particular focus was given to mobile phone technologies which, albeit not without challenges, can be used successfully for different purposes in AIS, such as bringing farmers closer to markets; linking farmers to each other and to extension agents; giving farmers improved access to technical knowledge; and for documentation of farmer innovations. The role of radio was also underlined, because of its wide acceptability, availability, low cost and use of local languages.”

Agricultural innovation systems

Agricultural innovation systems (AIS) are systems of individuals, organizations and enterprises that bring new products, processes and forms of organization into social and economic use to achieve food security, economic development and sustainable natural resource management.

Background: International Year of Family Farming

The UN General Assembly has declared 2014 to be the International Year of Family Farming and has invited FAO to facilitate implementation of the International Year, in collaboration with its partners. Among its initiatives for the International Year, FAO is planning to publish a major study on family farming and AIS in 2014 in the State of Food and Agriculture series, which is FAO’s major annual flagship publication. As part of the preparations for this study, FAO organized an Expert Consultation at FAO Headquarters on 19-21 March 2012 and hosted this moderated e-mail conference.

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