To deliver development outcomes at a global scale, more investment in agricultural research and innovation is needed, along with new ways to stimulate income opportunities from innovation for smallholder farmers, through entrepreneurship and public-private investments. The Global Forum is developing a global system for monitoring investments and returns in national systems. We are supporting farmers and civil society to participate in shaping research and advisory processes.

Stimulating Entrepreneurship 

The Global Forum is linking smallholder farmers with markets. Initiatives include the EC-funded Empowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets programme which aims to provide research support to national farmers’ organisations to strengthen their capacities to influence changes in the institutional environment, thus empowering smallholder farmers in markets.

Fragmented, under-resourced systems and incoherent investments present a huge challenge that undermines achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. There is a chronic need in most developing countries for investment and support for strengthening and transforming national agricultural innovation systems, to increase their impacts in sustainable development. Partners in the Global Forum, working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FAO and other multilateral and bilateral partners, are addressing this need through an integrated and multi-stakeholder approach, driven by and responsible to developing countries themselves. Innovation investment facilities are being fostered with a range of funding agencies, to mobilize integrated investments of money and skills in agricultural innovation and knowledge and their use in generating enterprise and opportunity.

Through these Facilities, innovative investments will be advocated and promoted in country programmes of the lending agencies concerned, responding to national demands and commitments, and through local demands identified by rural communities themselves.

The approach integrates:

a)  Mobilizing coordinated and improved public-private-producer financing, to strengthen national agricultural research and innovation systems and capacity development activities, with collective accountability through the Partners in the Global Forum.

b)  National delivery by informed and empowered local actors and providers, working together in value-web-based innovation platforms. The focus will be on using innovation to generate income growth of smallholder producers, particularly for rural women and youth, in resilient systems and  contribute to greater food and nutrition security.

c)  International technical support, by GFAR Partners, linked with the Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP) mechanism, to help overcome key capacity barriers, adding knowledge, skills, tools and technologies to address key deficiencies in the innovation systems and impact pathways concerned. Needs will be determined by national demands and commissioned through loans and associated grants and projects.

In 2015 the GFAR Secretariat worked with IFAD and other Partners in GFAR to further develop the Facility and required investments. It is intended that innovation processes and products will be directly integrated into the design and development of country loan programmes requested to IFAD. The Facility provides an exciting and inclusive mechanism to enhance and transform investment in agri-food innovation systems, within national investment portfolios. This is fundamental to finding long term solutions to poverty, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Through the Supporting African Women in Agriculture (SAWA) the Global Forum is mobilizing private sector enterprise networks, innovation platforms, venture funds and enterprise training partners, together with a wide range of enabling networks in education, research, youth, women’s groups and extension. The SAWA programme aims to catalyze large scale collective action to foster enterprises, turning agricultural innovations into viable micro-enterprise opportunities for women and youth. The programme links with large scale private companies, via their corporate sustainability and social responsibility programmes, and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) at grass-roots level. SAWA will use the products of agricultural innovation to create and scale out enterprises that directly benefit women in the focal countries of the multi-UN agency initiative Economic Empowerment for Rural Women, the African innovation platforms of PanAAC and the New Alliance. The processes are being scaled out through Regional and Sub-Regional Fora.

The Global Forum will continue its work with CGIAR Research Programs and national research programmes to foster and create enterprise opportunities from the innovations they are expected to generate. Through our stakeholder networks we can bring together the skill sets needed to foster South-South learning and North-South learning from successful enterprises and experiences with different innovation platforms in other regions. GFAR initiatives build on many other actions devoted to building capacity and providing support to SMEs such as IFAD’s and NEPA’s joint Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM), IFAD for small agro-enterprises development, IFC’s SME work and the CGIAR program on Policies, Institutions and Markets.

These actions aim to foster wider awareness of the need to create real economic opportunity for young people, in particular women, and create the investments, enabling measures and policies required for success and change in the national agricultural innovation institutions involved.

Monitoring Global Investment

The GCARD Roadmap identified decades of chronic under-investment in agricultural research and innovation around the world as a major barrier to development. A significant funding increase is required if systems are to deliver the global changes required. Government commitments must lead these processes. The Global Forum is advocating for increased investment in all AR4D sectors and is working to bring greater coherence and efficiency between national and aid investments, and to better embed research investments into rural development. The Global Forum is also working to foster enabling environments for the access, uptake and use of agricultural innovation. 

Monitoring and reporting such investments and their impacts is essential to help make the case for more investment. The Global Forum is tasked by the GCARD  to establish baseline data in investments and capacities against which changes can be traced and successful effects determined. GFAR collaborates with expert agencies such as ASTI - the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators programme of IFPRI - which works to generate internationally comparable data on agricultural R&D investments and capacity for developing countries. GFAR also helps mobilize and support initiatives such as those of FAO and GFRAS that are advocating for greater investments in rural advisory services worldwide.

The Global Forum is working to bring greater coherence and clarity on what investments are being made in the sector by governments and aid agencies around the world in partnership with the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development (GDPRD) and the European Initiative on Agricultural research for Development (EIARD),  the OECD and others.

In partnership with collectives of aid agencies the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development (GDPRD) and the European Initiative on Agricultural research for Development (EIARD), the OECD and others, the Global Forum is working to bring greater coherence and clarity on what investments are being made in the sector by governments and aid agencies around the world.

The Global Forum is also supporting the establishment of national baseline data on agri-food research and innovation investments and capacities through support to Regional Fora including AARINENAAPAAARICACAARIFARA and FORAGRO, each of which are working with ASTI and others to together determine the status and trends in their respective region. These studies will help to make a compelling case for greater investment by governments, aid agencies and the private sector and, together with international organizations such as the CGIAR, document potential returns.

Supporting Farmer Participation

To deliver impact and accountability in agricultural research, the Global Forum's stakeholders are championing approaches that directly empower farmers’ organizations to shape and determine advisory services and research.

GFAR’s pilot work under DURAS demonstrated that a competitive grants system could ensure that research priorities are identified jointly with farmers and information shared among all at the regional level. As a GFAR-sponsored and NGO-initiated multistakeholder programme, ProLinnova promotes local innovation in ecologically oriented agriculture and natural resource management. The platform builds on and scales up farmer-led approaches, documenting and sharing how farmers experiment to develop and test new ideas for better use of land and other resources. Understanding the rationale behind local innovation transforms how research and extension agents view local people and stimulates collective action.

This approach puts into practice the GDPRD commitments for donors to “emphasise multi-stakeholder approaches, inclusive partnerships, the role of non-state actors, transparency, and accountability” in the framework of “support [to] country ownership, use of country systems, alignment and harmonisation”. In this spirit, GFAR is progressively extending links among farmers’ organizations including the Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA), the East Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) and the World Farmers’ Organisation (WFO) ,and their supporting partners, to promote farmer-driven research in policy and funding.

These align to programmes in support of bottom up governance processes for food and agricultural research, such as the Democratising Food and Agriculture Research initiative, the Shashe Agro-Ecology Centre, other regional “farmers’ universities” initiatives in Latin America and West Africa, farmers’ juries in India, and the latest generation of farmer field schools.