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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Saudi Arabia launch an International Forum on Innovation for Agri-Food Systems to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

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In cooperation with the Regional Office of the food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture will launch the International Forum on Innovation for Agri-Food Systems to achieve the SDGs in Riyadh 15-17 March 2020.

The forum will serve as a staging point to address relevant issues that need solutions and tap on available opportunities through innovation in agriculture and food systems. It reflects the interest of Saudi Arabia and FAO in improving food systems and increasing agricultural productivity and sustainability through a set of policies, innovations, and technologies and promoting investment to overcome the challenges that the agricultural and food sectors and the sustainable management of natural resources are facing.

The forum seeks to produce knowledge and facts about applicable innovations in agriculture and food systems and rural development in the Near East and North Africa region and in the world. It provides an opportunity to identify the best ways through which innovation can efficiently be used in agriculture and food systems. It is designed as an interactive forum bringing together stakeholders from all sectors to share expertise on agricultural innovation and deepen understanding of the importance of agricultural innovations and their promotion. The forum will center on three key pillars:

1. Emerging technologies and innovation for agricultural production and plant health: Through precision agriculture, aqua agriculture, early warning systems, biological or integrated control of pests and diseases, desert agriculture, remote diagnosis systems, drones, climate information services, digital extension, and precise harvesting. 2. Innovation to create job opportunities and employment for youth and women: Through startups and business incubators, agricultural input supply chains, insurance programs, mobile learning centers, and others. 3. Innovating agri-food systems for markets and value chain: Through market linkage, the use of organic product labels, product tracking, bio packaging, advanced smart shops, and waste management.

The forum seeks to serve as an interactive platform to exchange knowledge for a better understanding of agri-food system innovation, suggest processes and paths to unleash and scale-up innovation potentials in the area of sustainable food systems, and activate partnerships and private and public investments. The agenda includes the launch of an exhibition for innovation and agricultural technologies, review of success stories, discussion panels, a forum for youth, and technical sessions on innovation. There will also be a high-level meeting on policies, which will be linked to the meeting of the agriculture ministers of the G20 group.

His Excellency Engineer Ahmed bin Saleh al-Eyada, the ministry undersecretary for agriculture commented: “The forum constitutes a call for action to unleash the potential of innovation in food and agricultural systems.” He said innovation in agri-food systems is a top priority for the Saudi leadership, as it helps address key challenges to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, including increasing sustainable agricultural production and preserving and revitalizing natural resources to achieve food security.

“I strongly thank Saudi Arabia for its trust in FAO to organize such a forum,” said FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, praising the country’s generous support for FAO programs in the Kingdom and abroad. “Innovation holds the key to making farming and the agri-food value chains more attractive, creating business and employment opportunities, and helping the region achieve food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The launch of the forum is a direct and firm response to FAO member countries’ enthusiasm to play a strong catalytic and supporting role to empower farmers, youth and women through innovation and technology. It also underscores the close cooperation between Saudi Arabia and FAO for over 70 years and promotes ways to benefit from the technical and advisory support provided on the strategic, institutional and technical levels.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).


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