copy the linklink copied!Key findings

A wide range of policies affect innovation, productivity and sustainability in food and agriculture. The following policy lessons emerge from a series of OECD and G20 country reviews on ways to improve the long-term productivity and sustainability performance of the food and agriculture system.

  • The whole policy package matters: improving policy coherence and transparency is crucial to increasing policy effectiveness, trust, and efficiency in the agro-food sector.

  • Policy strategies should cover the whole food supply chain, as productivity and sustainability need improvement along the chain and participants need to work together.

  • There is a business case to innovate and to improve productivity and environmental performance, from farm to fork. Well-functioning markets and a sound regulatory and policy environment are key to harnessing evolving market opportunities.

  • The first step to improving the policy environment is to roll back policies that keep farmers in uncompetitive and low-income activities, harm the environment, stifle innovation, slow structural and generational change and weaken resilience. Agriculture policy should then focus on measures to improve the sector’s long term productivity and sustainability.

  • The governance of national agricultural innovation systems needs to be improved; for example, establish a long-term strategy, consult stakeholders early and often, clarifying the role of different organisations, improve co-ordination across research and other organisations, and implement comprehensive evaluation systems.

  • It is important to strengthen linkages within the agricultural innovation system, between research and development (R&D) and technical assistance, and with R&D in other sectors, for example by enabling research co-operation and participation in networks.

  • Public funding of agricultural R&D is crucial. It should provide stable funds for knowledge infrastructure, strengthen the research with public good aspects, and complement private research efforts.

  • Governments should help strengthen private funding for R&D and foster public-private partnerships to increase the impact of public funding, for example by enforcing intellectual property rights and targeting support to innovation in areas where there is under-investment.

  • Governments should also facilitate international co-operation on R&D and innovation, for example by encouraging staff and student exchanges, sharing research infrastructure, and supporting participation in international projects and networks.

  • Governments should ensure farm advisory and extension systems include a diversity of competitive public and private providers to address constraints on technology adoption, from managing farm and natural resources management to coping with climate change.

  • Better information and analysis is needed to support government decision-making and to improve policy performance. It can also contribute to improving communication to foster acceptance of reform and of innovation.

Metadata, Legal and Rights

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area. Extracts from publications may be subject to additional disclaimers, which are set out in the complete version of the publication, available at the link provided.

© OECD 2019

The use of this work, whether digital or print, is governed by the Terms and Conditions to be found at

Key findings