Improving Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems

OECD Conference Proceedings

image of Improving Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems

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.



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.


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