FAO, Iran to reinvigorate agricultural innovation

February 14, 2021 - 17:4

TEHRAN – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in close collaboration with the Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization (AREEO) of Iran, has taken the first step to establish an Agricultural Innovation Lab (i-Lab) Program in the country.

To strengthen the Iranian national capacity in addressing emerging challenges in food and nutrition security, agricultural productivity, and environmental conservation, FAO supports the establishment of an agricultural innovation lab in Iran.

The FAO-Iran i-Lab initiative would bring researchers, technologists, young people, public and private sectors, and start-ups together to construct and implement capacity development plans for agricultural innovations.

According to a press release published by the FAO Representation in Iran, as the first step, FAO and AREEO held a joint stakeholders’ engagement and validation workshop, congregating experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, AREEO and international experts to discuss the requisite procedures, frameworks, priority working areas and guidelines for an open call of proposals.

“The initiative, modeled by FAO in nine pilot countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America, would provide an enabling environment for innovative procedures to harness the untapped power of existing and frontier technologies; design, pilot, accelerate and scale-up innovative ideas, services, and tools; and transform new solutions into public goods,” said Gerold Bödeker, FAO Representative to Iran in his opening remarks at the event. “This joint program is expected to enhance the productivity, effectiveness, competitiveness, and resilience of the country’s agriculture and food system.”

Bödeker added that “the i-Lab will provide a platform for FAO to utilize the knowledge, experiences and new ideas of Iranian experts, scholars, and entrepreneurs for achieving innovative solutions in addressing challenges pertaining to the climate change, soil erosion, desertification, deforestation, and the food and nutrition security and safety.”

“The establishment of FAO-Iran i-Lab would also develop an intra-organizational model of innovation; promote an entrepreneurial culture; help to identify owners of innovative ideas among the private sector, academia, governmental agencies, and entrepreneurs; and assist in evaluating the potential capacities of the proposed ideas,” he stated.

Based on the AREEO campus in Karaj, this initiative will provide the space to mentor start-up teams, provide funds, expand communication networks, and advocate for agro-innovation proposals.

The program will provide capacity-building opportunities, including workshops, training, and entrepreneurship events for governmental staff and catalyze effective interaction between research institutes and industries. This initiative would establish a solid platform to gather the most recent and novel ideas in areas of agriculture, natural resources, and environmental management.

Being the lead UN agency in promoting sustainable climate-smart agro-rural development, FAO extends its support to member countries to adopt a system-wide approach to unlock the potential of innovation, linking network of actors together with supporting policies and institutions to harness new technologies, products, processes, and forms of organization in responding to the emerging needs and challenges.

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