" ITREALMS: IFAD highlights transformative power of innovation - ITREALMS

Sunday, February 18, 2024

IFAD highlights transformative power of innovation - ITREALMS

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For the small-scale farmers in some of the most remote corners of the world, innovation is not just a buzzword, it's a lifeline with the potential to reshape the future of agriculture by generating and scaling up new ideas, new approaches and new opportunities to sustainably overcome the challenges they face on a daily basis, according to Alvaro Lario, President of the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Speaking during the opening of IFAD’s 47th Governing Council in Rome, which this year focuses on the theme Innovation for a Food Secure Future and the needs of small-scale producers in developing countries, Lario stressed, “We must never stop making an impact for those who need it most, and it’s for that reason that we are constantly innovating.”
IFAD highlights transformative power of innovation - ITREALMS
The IFAD President pointed out that innovation is not always about cutting-edge technologies, that it can come in many forms and be found in many places including in rural communities and among farmers and producers themselves.

“Many innovations are developed in collaboration with the people we work with on the ground. Agri-entrepreneurs in developing countries are some of the most innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs in the world. We don’t bring innovations to them – they bring innovations to us,” Lario told heads of state, government leaders and representatives from IFAD’s 178 Member States.

Among those speaking at the event, Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, emphasized the significance of “small AI,” citing a case study in Tanzania where farmers uploading pictures of pest-infected crops onto a specially developed app that provided locally available treatments, saved US$100 million in lost crops. Across the country, the impact amounted to US$25 billion in savings.

“When one thinks about investment, the amount of investment is relatively low but the return is enormous and the actions that need to be taken are straightforward,” he said.

Speaking at a press event, Elizabeth Nsimadala, a farmer and agripreneur from Uganda who is also President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, reiterated the importance of investment and information.

“We lack solutions,” she said. “The small-scale farmer has to look up to the sky and pray to God it’s going to rain.”

Some of the new ideas and approaches discussed during the event were showcased at a Marketplace of Innovation which featured, for example, AI-powered climate information systems that keep farmers abreast of changing weather patterns, and blockchain and Web3 technology for digital wallets that allow rural people to easily receive and make digital payments.

Solutions showcased at the marketplace aim to bring about broad systemic change that will ultimately help small-scale farmers increase their production and livelihoods, while building resilience to shocks such as climate change, conflict and economic instability. These changes can have far-reaching impacts since small-scale farmers produce one-third of the world’s food, and up to 70 percent of food in some developing countries.

IFAD has often been at the forefront of AI adoption. By using Microsoft AI solutions, the UN specialized agency built Omnidata, a centralized analytics platform that connects data, dashboards, visualizations, and analytics powered by machine learning and AI to address small-scale farmers’ needs through targeted investments.

IFAD and the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB Group) also announced that they are exploring a collaboration to develop universal digital wallets tailored to the needs of small-scale farmers. The aim is to roll-out the initiative globally, accelerating the inclusion and resilience of rural people and vulnerable groups.

Photo credit: ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello

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