WFO advocates for a farmer-driven innovation policy framework at the WTO Committee on Agriculture’s session on Technology Transfer

On May 21, Mr Brodie Berrigan, Facilitator of the WFO Working Group on International Trade, represented the World Farmers at a thematic session on the Transfer of Technology organized by the WTO Secretariat during the 108th meeting of the WTO Committee on Agriculture.

According to the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2022-2031, agricultural productivity must increase by 28% over the next decade to achieve food security for a growing population and must do so in a sustainable way. For the WTO Deputy Director-General, Ambassador Jean-Marie Paugam, “the answer to the double challenge of achieving increased productivity and climate-sustainable agriculture will be 75% innovation-driven.”

In his address, Mr Berrigan picked up on the discussion on innovation in agriculture and its importance for productivity and sustainability, reminding the audience that innovation is not just about technology; it encompasses products, processes, markets, and institutions. As such, it must be approached from technological, social, and organizational perspectives.

Mr Berrigan outlined the importance of a farmer-driven approach to innovation as stated in the 2022 WFO policy position “Research and Innovation for Sustainable and Productive Agriculture in the Global Food Systems”, focusing on main pillars, including:

  • Basic Infrastructure: Ensuring essential services like electric grids.
  • Farmer Engagement: Involvement in policy decisions.
  • Innovation and Knowledge Exchange: Through extension services and capacity building.
  • Smart Farming Practices: Affordability of precision agriculture techniques.
  • Access to Technology: Availability of new agricultural technologies.
  • Connectivity: Improving internet access, especially in rural areas.
  • Data Utilization: Effective use of data while managing privacy and cybersecurity risks.
  • Access to Capital: Agricultural grants, lending tools, and insurance programs.

Referring to the 2023 WFO Policy on International Trade and the WFO participation at 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC13), Mr Berrigan also highlighted the crucial role of the WTO in eliminating protectionist measures, ensuring science- and risk-based decisions, re-establishing a transparent dispute settlement system, and regulating trade-distorting domestic support. He stressed the importance of strengthening international science-based standards and enhancing education and capacity building, particularly for women and young farmers in developing countries.

Farmers have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of agricultural trade and are eager to contribute to WTO discussions and decision-making.