Improving Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems

Improving Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems

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13 fév 2012
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9789264167445 (PDF) ;9789264167438(imprimé)

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This conference proceedings from the OECD Conference on Agricultural Knowledge Systems (AKS), held in Paris, on 15-17 June 2011, discusses a large range of experiences and approaches to AKS  explores how to foster development and adoption of innovation to meet global food security and climate change challenges. The conference considered developments in institutional frameworks, public and private roles and partnerships, regulatory frameworks conducive to innovation, the adoption of innovations and technology transfers, and the responsiveness of AKS to broader policy objectives.

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  • Foreword and Acknowledgements
    The title of this conference on Agricultural Knowledge System (AKS) may be clear to its attendees, but not necessarily to the general public. In simplest terms, this meeting is about innovation and will address the ways in which innovation can help secure adequate supplies of food in agriculture, feed and fuel over the course of the coming decades, and how governments and policymakers can achieve this in a sustainable way.
  • Acronyms
  • Executive summary
    The conference provided a good opportunity to discuss a large range of experiences and approaches to Agricultural Knowledge Systems (AKS), considering in particular developments in institutional frameworks, public and private roles and partnerships, regulatory frameworks conducive to innovation, the adoption of innovations and technology transfers, and the responsiveness of AKS to broader policy objectives.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés How well do Agricultural Knowledge Systems respond to new challenges?

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    • Global and US trends in agricultural R&D in a global food security setting
      In recent decades, we have witnessed in most countries a slowdown in the rate of growth in spending on agricultural Research and Development (R&D) — especially R&D oriented to enhancing farm productivity. This trend is most notable in the world’s richest countries that have in the past been the primary drivers of global agricultural science and innovation. It has happened in spite of compelling evidence on the very large returns to public investments in agricultural R&D. Along with the slowdown in research investments we have witnessed a slowdown in agricultural productivity growth in most countries — China and Brazil are notable exceptions. These trends have potentially significant implications for global food security unless policy changes are implemented soon to rapidly reinvigorate investments in agricultural science and innovation, especially in view of the very long time lags between making investments in R&D and reaping returns in farmers’ fields.
    • Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems in transition
      This section presents the intermediate results of the review by the EU Standing Committee on Agricultural Research (SCAR) to identify agricultural knowledge structures in Member States (as well as other countries involved in the European Research Area). The Collaborative Working Group on Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS) of this Committee was created in response to the need for increased coordination between research and higher education systems. In discussions on innovation policy, two views have emerged: the macro-economic view which stresses market failure and research policy, and the institutional economics / systems of innovation view which stresses systematic institutional failure and innovation policy. The AKIS thinking is grounded in the second view.
    • Australia's approach to rural research, development and extension
      This section outlines how Australia’s Agricultural Knowledge System (AKS) contributes to the productivity, sustainability and competitiveness of Australia’s primary industries. The strong link between innovation and productivity growth and the role key members of the Australian AKS have in funding and conducting research and development, and delivering and adopting innovation are described. The challenges and opportunities facing the Australian AKS and the Australian Government’s response are examined. Finally, how the National Primary Industries Research, Development and Extension Framework is assisting AKS members to better collaborate in order to improve the AKS’s function and efficiency is described.
    • China's agricultural innovation system
      Agricultural research has been an engine of agricultural growth in China over the past 30 years. With rising food demand, China’s leaders believe agricultural technology is a major solution to improving the nation’s food security. They have developed a national agricultural Research and Development (R&D) system and have tried to reform this system so that the technologies generated can be more responsive to farmer demands. Since 1985, the government has invested significantly in R&D, particularly in recent years; government R&D investment increased by more than 15% during 2000-09. However, China’s agricultural research and extension face significant challenges as a public-dominated system that has its pros and cons. The leaders are well aware of the weaknesses of this system and have recently sought to encourage the private sector to join public efforts in the agricultural R&D system. If this is to happen, it is expected that a new era in China’s agricultural R&D will develop.
    • Agricultural R&D in Africa

      In the face of volatile and rising food prices, rapid population growth, and climate change, governments are increasingly recognising the value of greater investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) as an essential element to increase agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Based on data collected from 370 R&D agencies in 32 countries, the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (AST) initiative found that after a decade of stagnation during the 1990s, investments and human resource capacity in public agricultural R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa grew by more than 20% during 2001–08. Most of this growth, however, occurred in only a handful of countries and was largely the result of increased government commitments to boost low salary levels and to rehabilitate infrastructure, rather than actual research programmes. Many other countries — particularly those in francophone West Africa — reported stagnating or falling investment and capacity levels and these countries continue to face fundamental challenges, including rapidly aging pools of scientists, a high dependency on donor and development bank funding, and very large fluctuations in funding from one year to the next.

      Notwithstanding the challenges facing many countries, renewed commitment to agriculture by governments and donors indicates improved prospects for agricultural R&D for a number of African countries. But this political support must be translated into a set of specific directives by governments, donors, and other stakeholders if the many challenges facing agricultural R&D systems are to be addressed. Among the areas to be addressed are: 1) counteracting decades of underinvestment in agricultural R&D; 2) halting excessive volatility in yearly investment levels; 3) addressing existing and imminent challenges in human resource capacity; and 4) maximising regional and subregional co-operation in agricultural R&D.

    • Responses to new agricultural challenges
      The changing natural and economic global environment offers the agri-food sector challenges and opportunities. Innovation leading to increased productivity and sustainability will be required to help the sector meet expectations in a context of higher and more variable prices, stronger demand and resource constraints. Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems are diverse and evolving from a linear approach to a more collaborative approach between countries and members of the Agricultural Knowledge and Information System (AKIS): public and private sector, higher education, research centres, producers, extension services and institutions specialised in technology transfer. In this context, networking is gaining in importance. The INNOVAGRO network has been created to foster international collaboration and communication cross border and continent to help the agri-food sector meet emerging challenges and size opportunities.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Institutional framework for improving the responsiveness of Agricultural Knowledge Systems

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    • Perspectives from the UK foresight global food and farming futures programme
      Most future projections suggest that to meet expected demands of growing and wealthier global populations, agricultural output will have to expand to some 70-100% of current levels, and to do so within increasing resource constraints, with increasing stress and volatility associated with climate change, and under increasing social, economic and political pressure associated with uncertainty and vulnerability. While greater food supply is itself a major task (see for example Bruinsma, 2009), food security, and the means to maintain and improve equity of food access amongst the world’s most vulnerable people will be a particular challenge. The recent UK Foresight Review on Global Food and Farming Futures (Foresight, 2011) concluded that while the technical means might exist to deliver proposed output levels, scenarios of rising and more volatile prices, ecosystem limits, hunger alleviation, and biodiversity demands would require concerted responses to intensify sustainably, improve supply chain efficiencies, improve consumer awareness and reduce waste. To avoid substantial real term price rises and minimise ecosystem and climate change impact, rates of change of agricultural productivity would have to increase above current levels, and this would require more effective Research and Development (R&D), uptake and capacity building.
    • Experiences with CGIAR reorganisation

      As the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) celebrated its 40th anniversary in May 2011, it also embraced a new business model that has positioned it to play a central role in delivering the science needed to feed the earth’s growing human population while protecting the environment and the resource base upon which future food production depends.

      This section goes behind the evolution of the CGIAR, beginning with its establishment four decades ago, when it had four international agricultural research centres under its umbrella; looks briefly at its growth during subsequent years; the reasons for its reform process, which started in 2009; its new vision and how it now does business differently; and the ways in which it proposes to strengthen linkages between the various components of agricultural knowledge systems.

    • Institutional Agricultural Knowledge System reforms in New Zealand and international networks
      Agriculture in New Zealand is a significant component of the New Zealand economy accounting for 9.1% of GDP. This is in part due to the long term investment in research to support the agricultural sector. The New Zealand agricultural knowledge system (AKS) has undergone significant reform over the last two decades with a key feature being the close alignment of the public and private sectors in setting research priorities, funding and non-financial support. International networks are considered important for New Zealand and the global AKS, and a significant effort in the last two years has been put into establishing the Global Research Alliance on Greenhouse Gases to respond to the need to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time maintaining productivity.
    • Innovative institutional approaches for Agricultural Knowledge System management in India

      In India, a multipronged institutional arrangements is involved in the management of Agricultural Knowledge Systems (AKS). At the national level, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has established a Directorate of Knowledge Management in Agriculture (DKMA) with a focus on inclusive knowledge management approach. Agropedia and Open Agri are the other recent national level initiatives for strengthening AKS in the country.

      A single arrangement for the delivery of relevant technology and technology products is being implemented through Agricultural Technology Information Centres (ATICs). At the grass-root levels, Krishi Vigyan Kendras (Farm Science Centres) and Agricultural Technology Management Agencies (ATMA) have the responsibility of knowledge resource management. There are 200 such centres within a network which includes eight Zonal Project Directorates and that is co-ordinated through a central hub located in New Delhi.

      A vast network of Rural Knowledge Centres was established by the South Asian University (SAU), governments and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) also play an important role in AKS management to reach millions of farm families living in diverse agro-climatic zones under wide geographic dispersion.

    • Raising awareness of agricultural knowledge and information system in Spain
      Agricultural and rural development is increasingly dependent on the efficient functioning of agricultural knowledge systems. More specifically, it depends on how the production, transmission and implementation of scientific knowledge and available technologies are managed. It is thus crucial to improve the interface between the production of knowledge and its adoption in food businesses related to agriculture, fisheries and rural areas. To that end, two initiatives developed in Spain, which are based on the use of new information technologies, can be identified as agricultural knowledge system (AKS) successes: The knowledge platform for rural areas and fisheries (MARM), and The RuralCat of the Generalitat of Catalunya.
    • Responses of the French Agricultural Knowledge System to new agricultural challenges

      The French agricultural knowledge system (AKS) has maintained a structure and organisation inherited from the post-war period based on a strong agricultural research organisation (INRA), a technical and academic educational system with campuses across the country, and applied research and advisory services linked to farmer organisations. The Ministry in charge of agriculture plays a major role as it oversees INRA and the public agricultural education system. In partnership with agricultural professionals, it manages applied research and advisory services. This structure has successfully accompanied the modernisation of the French agricultural sector, which has been accomplished on the basis of open innovation and the collective organisation of different actors involved in this area.

      The nature and intensity of today's challenges have changed. Issues, which used to be purely agricultural, are now horizontal; they are shared with society as a whole and global in nature. European integration has created both new opportunities and new constraints, and it is in this context that the French AKS continues to undergo profound changes, while keeping its basic structure. Against a background of major reforms and large public investment, one can observe a rapid restructuring of the agricultural sector, with the development of institutions that focus on research, higher education, economic development, globalisation, and integration with the private sector. The actions of stakeholders and the combination of knowledge and local initiatives remain, however, are at the heart of the innovation process.

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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Public / private roles

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    • Intellectual property rights and the role of public and levy-funded research
      The introduction of intellectual property rights (IPRs) to protect knowledge created from agricultural research, development and extension (RD&E) has, in many instances, created strong incentive for private investment and has helped to address the chronic underfunding of agricultural RD&E. However, the privatisation of RD&E is not without its challenges given the non-rival nature of knowledge. Economic theory suggests that when protected by IPRs, knowledge becomes a toll good and creates the economic conditions for a natural monopoly. In an unregulated market, toll-good industries face the dilemma of market power in the case of monopoly, or the costly fragmentation of research effort when more than one firm exists. While this dilemma can be managed through other policies, efficient outcomes are difficult to achieve in the market place, as evidenced by the outcomes in the canola and corn hybrid seed industry. Models of levybased, industry-controlled RD&E show some promise to address these toll-good issues. The Saskatchewan Pulse Growers invests research levies on behalf of growers and manages the intellectual property (IP) produced. The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a shareholder along with public and private firms in three wheatbreeding firms in Australia. France has a negotiated end point royalty system. More research is needed to understand the long run impact of these alternative institutional relationships.
    • The role of business in working with government to develop Agricultural Knowledge Systems for global challenges
      In New Zealand there is a shared analysis and understanding between business and government in the development of agricultural knowledge systems. Primary production underpins the economy. A key driver of New Zealand's international competitiveness is research and technology for agriculture. This section presents case studies to illustrate the private sector's experience in working with government to develop these knowledge systems to meet global challenges at the nexus of food security and climate change. This experience extends from developing near-science to near-market knowledge. The role of the private sector varies in this range to reflect, in part, the different risks, timeframe, competencies and value relevant to business.
    • Partnerships in agricultural innovation

      Successful cases of innovation invariably demonstrate a range of partnerships, alliances and network-like arrangements that connect together knowledge users, knowledge producers and others involved in enabling innovation in the market, policy and civil society arenas. With this comes the realisation that public agricultural research needs to strengthen links to a wider set of players from the private and civil society sectors and, of course, farmers themselves. Public agricultural extension services have traditionally played the role of linking farmers to technology. However, recent studies that view this role as one of innovation brokering point to the fact that it involves a range of innovation management tasks that go beyond simply linking to sources of researchbased knowledge and include: linking to input and output markets, network development, conflict resolution, and helping negotiate changes in the policy environment, working practices, standards and regulations and financing arrangements. But who should perform this linking task and what forms of brokering really matter?

      Studies in the Netherlands point to the emergence of specialist brokering organisations, which include privatised public agencies and civil society organisations that rely on a mixture of public and private funding. This section presents the findings from an agricultural research-into-use support programme operating in Asia and Africa, which has focused on finding ways to embed research into the wider set of networks involved in innovation. This has included the establishment of pilot specialist agencies to broker linkages for innovation. The main findings of this work suggest that in the case of the specialist agencies, rather than there being a fixed type of brokering activity that needs to be performed and a preferred organisational format, these agencies have adapted to the conditions in the countries they are located in.

    • The role of innovation brokers in the agricultural innovation system
      This section discusses the role of innovation brokers in bridging communication gaps between various actors of innovation systems. On the basis of recent experience in the Netherlands, it outlines the success of brokers in finding solutions adapted to the needs of farmers and industry, and thus their positive impact on innovation adoption. This section also examines some issues on how brokers function, particularly with regard to balancing interests, funding their activities, and the role of government.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Regulatory framework conducive to innovation

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    • The European Union system for health and consumer protection
      This section provides a general overview of the EU system for health and consumer protection, and examines some of the initiatives that the European Commission is currently undertaking to encourage innovation in this area. The first part of the chapter presents a background on some of the challenges we are currently facing including — increasing global food demand, and aging population, hunger, food waste, increasing prices and competitiveness in the food supply chain. The second part identifies some of the initiatives designed to spur innovation through smarter legislative processes and other strategies, launched under the Europe 2020 programme. Finally, there is brief examination of challenges in three areas: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), pesticides, and nanotechnology.
    • The United States approach for fostering new biological technologies and ensuring their safety
      This section addresses the regulation of genetically engineered (GE) products and biotechnology as exemplary of a system for delivering innovative new products and assuring safety with public involvement. Biotechnology has been integral to the record productivity the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has seen in major crops. In the United States, the regulation of GE and biotechnology products involves three agencies: APHIS, the FDA and the EPA. Each agency has different responsibilities, though their regulatory domains often overlap. As a result, there is a high level of collaboration and cooperation across agencies, with each decision based on scientific fact and experimental data. GE crops, in particular, have had significant impact upon sustainability within the United States. These crops have had measurable beneficial economic and environmental effects on GE and non-GE producers alike. Going forward, we need to facilitate the transfer of scientific knowledge and innovation between the public and private sectors, through Intellectual Property (IP) protection and public-private partnerships.
    • Breeding business
      This section discusses differences in the strength of Intellectual Property protection between plant breeders' rights (a form of intellectual property right developed specifically for new plant varieties) and patent rights. It presents the main findings of a report, "Breeding Business", issued in the Netherlands and which examined trends in technological developments, socio/economic developments, intellectual property protection, and policy and use of genetic resources. The analysis contained in this report suggests that access to genetic variation is so crucial for further innovation in breeding that a form of breeder’s exemption within patents rights seems both justified and necessary. Options to achieve this objective can be found at three levels: via amendments to current legislation and regulations; via the improvement of the quality of patent; and via improvement of the handling of intellectual property in the industrial sector.
    • Public-private partnerships
      This section addresses the role of the private sector in agricultural Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), and its capacity to drive innovation and Research and Development (R&D) — elements that are crucial to fuelling growth in the agricultural sector. The private sector plays a particularly critical role in spurring agricultural R&D, especially when combined with public sector initiatives within mature markets with strong Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to protect returns on investment. The key to a successful PPP lies in combining the different objectives and aims of the public and private sectors in order to bring about a synergy effect – a co-operative mechanism whereby both public and private sectors share the financial burdens of R&D. This synergy effect enables returns on investment by taking advantage of the private sector's technical expertise, and the public sector's knowledge of local needs and networks. This section also discusses the issues that may arise when implementing PPPs, including increased liability exposure and the potential erosion of IPR. As we demonstrate, effective PPP strategies must recognise the differences in objectives and capabilities across the public and private sectors, while acknowledging that returns on investment are essential to creating and fostering innovation. PPPs must also promote enabling, science-based frameworks in favour of prohibitive regulatory frameworks. Finally, we recommend an increase in public spending in order to foster innovation and make new technologies more widely available.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Facilitating adoption of innovations and technology transfers

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    • A rainbow revolution and participatory plant breeding
      The adoption of new crop varieties by local farmers has been a key technological innovation for improving productivity and profitability. Plant breeding, carried out either by farmers or professional breeders, has been the main tool for the development and dissemination of these new varieties. Its role will continue to increase in importance over the coming decades in a time of major challenges for sustainable plant production due to factors such as global climate change, food insecurity and the degradation of natural resources. A successful example of an Agricultural Knowledge System (AKS) is participatory plant breeding which combines the local knowledge of traditional farmers and the scientific knowledge of modern scientists applied at a global level, thus allowing for efficient local innovation in the context of global challenges. The lessons learned and the future prospects of this participatory approach are analysed.
    • A Farmer's experience with biotech crops in South Africa
      Demand for agricultural products is increasing, with most experts suggesting that food production will need to double by 2050 in order to meet food demand. To increase production, while improving the sustainability of agriculture, we need to adopt better methods, better management, tillage methods, better knowledge of resources, and better genetics. In the last two decades, the area planted with biotech crops has increased in the world to reach 10% of total arable land. The main traits are herbicide tolerance and insect resistance. In South Africa, yields have almost doubled with the adoption of biotech maize, which now accounts for a fourth of the area planted. Farm-level evidence in the Freestate Province of South Africa shows that biotech varieties are less dependent on rainfall, reduce production costs, and increase yield and profit margins (by up to 32%) compared to other varieties. Moreover, savings on herbicide and pesticide applications, and the resulting decline in fuel usage, have had positive impacts on the environment.
    • Latin America: Public agricultural advisory services
      This section covers developments over the past ten years in selected Latin American countries. It covers the institutional innovations that have occurred, focussing on the decentralisation of service delivery, outsourcing of delivery, and co-financing by regional governments and beneficiaries. Farmers today are faced in this region with rapidly changing agricultural markets due to changing consumer demands and trade liberalisation, and thus the innovations needed are as much institutional as they are technical. This will require new partnerships, new rules and regulations and new forms of innovation. An innovation system perspective is called for, rather than a narrow Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation System (AKIS) focus.
    • The Brazilian Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) System
      There are many challenges related to environmental sustainability, social inclusion, globalisation and technological changes that are driving Brazilian organisations towards more dynamic modes of operation. Many government programmes are currently dedicated to improving infrastructure, research and development (R&D) strategies, communication and technology transfer in line with today´s realities and challenges. Embrapa, the Brazilian agricultural research organisation has been pursuing new ways to deal with these challenges for more than three decades. A semi-autonomous federal agency administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Supply, Embrapa is the largest agricultural R&D organisation in Latin America and a world leader in development of innovations for tropical agriculture. Embrapa is consolidating a management strategy designed to integrate and align its efforts in R&D, communication and technology transfer towards effective delivery of innovations to farmers and the Brazilian society. Embrapa is also developing new ways to share technologies developed for tropical agriculture with countries in Africa and Latin America. While this system is still evolving, it has helped Embrapa to move in the direction of more co-operative efforts, expanding its networking capabilities, and intensifying its efforts towards agricultural innovation in closer interaction with its stakeholders and with society as a whole.
    • Facilitating adoption and technology transfers
      This section outlines the remarks and questions brought up by John Preissing, FAO and Thomas Schäfer, Novozymes, who were asked to discuss the presentations made during the session on "Facilitating adoption of innovations and technology transfers," reported under Sections 21 to 24 of these proceedings.
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Responding to broaderpolicy objectives

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    • Final round table
      Remarks by Pascal Bergeret, General Directorate for Education and Research of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries, Rural Affairs and Spatial Management, France
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  • Ouvrir / Fermer Cacher / Voir les résumés Conclusions

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    • Summary of some key issues raised and implications for the policy agenda in OECD countries

      Productivity growth has been a major feature of global agriculture. In an analysis of productivity in more than 90 countries, Coelli and Rao (2005) conclude that the mean rate of growth in total factor productivity (TFP) averaged 1.02% per annum over the period 1980-2000, which is quite high considering that the group included a number of developing countries in which agricultural productivity growth was lagging during this period. This estimate also compares favourably with the average rate of growth in TFP of 0.96% per annum for the economy as a whole in 23 OECD countries over the period 1975-90 (Maudos et al., 1999). Increased productivity has enabled the populations of OECD countries to have access to an expanding supply of food and agricultural raw materials. The real (inflation-adjusted) price of food has declined globally and the share of the average consumer’s disposable income spent of food has fallen substantially. The increase in productivity has been made possible by a continuous supply of new technology and an improvement in knowledge and skills of farmers and others engaged in the food system. To a large extent we have come to consider rapid productivity growth in agriculture as the norm and we may have become unduly complacent about the system for research and development (R&D) and knowledge transfer that underpins this.

      Recent experiences of two periods of rapidly increasing global food prices have raised questions about the ability of the food system to continue along the path of rapid gains in efficiency and providing an ample supply of food and agricultural raw materials at reasonable prices. The OECD meeting provided an opportunity to take stock of the current situation and future prospects in the Agricultural Knowledge System (AKS) in a range of countries, and the implications for future policy.

    • Implications for OECD work
      This meeting has demonstrated a wide diversity in approaches to AKS, with each responding to different agro-economic, social and institutional challenges, and each with a different history. Most strikingly, all of these approaches are currently in development. The question going forward is whether these developments will successfully address the challenges we have identified at this conference — namely, those arising at the nexus of food security and climate change.
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