UN food and agriculture director calls for greater R&D investment

20 October 2022 | Muriel Cozier

‘We need to invest more in agricultural research for development, which has remained extremely low, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries.’ – Qu Dongyu.

Qu Dongyu, Director General of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), has used his opening address to the first World Food Forum Science and Innovation Forum to call for greater R&D investment.

‘We are witnessing a revolution in science and technology that is moving at incredible speed […] We need to invest more in agricultural research for development, which has remained extremely low, especially in low- and lower-middle-income countries.’ Dongyu said, noting that for every $100 of agricultural GDP, only between $0.34 and $0.72 is spent on agricultural research and development.

SCI News - 20 October 2022 - image of Qu Dongyu
Pictured above: FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu; Image credit: ©FAO/Alessandra Benedetti. 

The hybrid event, taking place at the FAO’s headquarters in Rome and remotely worldwide, is focusing on the key role of science, innovation and technology for agrifood system transformation. Specifically, the event has considered major scientific developments and debated the opportunities and risks associated with their deployment for ensuring food, nutrition, and wellbeing for all.

Presentations have come from around the world with speakers in Italy, Thailand, Hungary, Chile, Ghana and Egypt, amongst others, sharing insights. Global leaders have also addressed the event, with a number of key scientists participating in video interviews. The event comes to a close on Friday 21 October

To facilitate and provide a framework for delivering the benefits of science, innovation and technology, the FAO has released its first Science and Innovation Strategy. The 28-page document is said to ‘set out the way to reinforcing the use of science and innovation in the FAOs technical interventions and normative guidance’. It also ‘represents a key tool for the implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework 2022-31, and its broad and inclusive scope emphasises the need to consider all scientific disciplines and all types of innovation.’

Ahead of the Science and Innovation Forum, more than 100 independently organised side events were held in mid-October. The events included Advancing science, technology and policy in sustainable acquatic food systems for food security and nutrition, organised by Michigan State University; Transforming Food Innovation through Science and Collaboration, organised by Nestlé and Swiss Food Nutrition Valley; and Circular Food and Agricultural Systems, organised by US academic and industry bodies.

The Circular Food and Agricultural Systems event, organised by US academic and industry bodies.

On 1 November SCI’s Formulation Forum and Food Group will jointly host Formulation of Sustainable Food Products webinar. Speakers from the University of Leeds, Quorn Foods, and Healy Group will provide an understanding of food sustainability, its limitations and some solutions to the challenges of current global food systems, raw materials management, plant-based foods and future food trends.

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