Farmer-led innovation promoted at FAO symposium

The International Symposium on Agricultural Innovation for Family Farmers on 21–23 November 2018 in Rome opened with recognition of innovation by small-scale farmers, when Anil Gupta from Honeybee put a spotlight on this in the first keynote address. In the panel on “Putting Family Farmers at the Centre” chaired by farmer confederation leader Fernando López (Coprofam), Ann Waters-Bayer from Prolinnova stressed the importance of facilitating innovation processes not only for but also with and by family farmers, including pastoralists. In the originally printed summary of the symposium made by the chair Shadrack Moephuli (CEO, Agricultural Research Council, South Africa), the top two recommendations were to "promote farmer-led innovation" and to "strengthen the capacity of family farmers to innovate". These were somehow combined in the revised summary posted later on the FAO website into: "There is a need to strengthen the capacity of family farmers to innovate, including through adaptation, sustainable use of knowledge systems, indigenous resources, scientific solutions, co-creation and learning", i.e. the "farmer-led" idea was dropped.

Numerous speakers and participants pointed to the importance of focusing on innovation in agroecology by family farmers. The FAO Symposium has brought the concept of farmer-led innovation up to the highest international level of governmental and intergovernmental institutions concerned with agricultural and food systems.