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Innovation, Productivity and Sustainability in Food and Agriculture

Main Findings from Country Reviews and Policy Lessons

image of Innovation, Productivity and Sustainability in Food and Agriculture

Markets that function well within a stable regulatory and policy environment are key to improving the productivity and sustainability of the food and agriculture sector. This report contains the main findings and policy lessons gained from a series of wide-ranging country reviews on how government policies can improve sectoral productivity and sustainability through their impact on innovation, structural change, natural resource use, and climate change. Improving the policy environment would require rolling back those policies that distort markets the most and retain farmers in uncompetitive and low-income activities, harm the environment, stifle innovation, slow structural and generational change, and weaken resilience.

Agriculture policy should focus instead on measures that facilitate the uptake of technologies and practices that use resources more efficiently and sustainably, and which contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Of equal importance are: a more collaborative approach, more effective governance systems, the development of long-term strategies, strengthened linkages between national and international actors, and comprehensive and coherent evaluation procedures. Public funding of food and agricultural research is also crucial, and private efforts need to be strengthened, including through public-private partnerships. Finally, improving overall policy coherence would contribute to building trust, and to increasing policy effectiveness at each step of the food and agriculture chain.

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Some concepts and indicators used in the Framework

As defined by the Oslo Manual (OECD/Eurostat, 2018), innovation is a broad concept. It is more than research and development (R&D) and encompasses both the creation and adoption of innovation, which can be “new to the firm, new to the market or new to the world”. At farm level, many innovations are “process innovations” as they relate to production techniques, e.g. the adoption of improved seeds or irrigation systems. The downstream industry generates product innovation, such as food with new functional (health) attributes, or non-food products from agriculture for the chemical or pharmaceutical industry (bioeconomy). All along the supply chain, marketing and organisational innovations are increasingly important.

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