In addition to responding to calls from different donors, preparing project proposals, and implementing R&D, AGRINATURA has identified seven thematic priority areas in which they wish to play a proactive role in Europe’s contribution to the international agenda on research and education for development:
Access to markets: “From fork to farm”
Because of profound changes in agricultural activity (shifting of government priorities, volatile prices, variations in market conditions), farmers are required to become efficient participants in the supply chain. Agricultural R&D and investment can help farmers (large, medium or small) in articulating their needs and obtaining appropriate services. The future in all developing continents depends on the ability of family farmers to obtain appropriate technological and organisational options and support services for their own and their community needs. AGRINATURA involvement in ESFIM
contributes to these developments.
Biosafety in developing countries
New technologies including biotechnology can improve agricultural productivity in developing countries, on condition that they respect safety standards and are adapted to local conditions. Increasing demand for biological resources can only be met through innovation and advancement of knowledge in sustainable management, production and use of biological resources. AGRINATURA experts in biotechnology are at the cutting edge in this area.
The fight against desertification is closely linked to reducing poverty and hunger, environmental sustainability and developing global partnerships for development, three of the Millennium Development Goals. Sustainable dryland development can lead to increased employment and prosperity, and thus contribute indirectly to other MDGs such as reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and controlling HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. For AGRINATURA, meeting MDGs is a top priority in its research programmes.
Major human diseases linked to poverty (AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis…) have a major impact on national economies and seriously hamper development. Developing countries are becoming increasingly vulnerable to changes in human and environmental conditions that nurture newly emerging diseases such as SARS, bird flu and Rift Valley fever that represent global hazards. AGRINATURA research teams are actively involved in taking an ecosystem approach to human health, developing new policies adapted to local contexts, and finding open-ended and viable solutions for the long-term future.
The search for forest-based products including novel plant species and sustainable processes which improve properties and processing facilities also involves production of high added value products using wood-based fibres with high durability, usability and recyclability. Consumer demand is now focusing on new products through the replacement of “unsustainable products” and hazardous components (glues, painting, and preservatives), while seeking energy savings and environmentally-friendly goods. Here again, AGRINATURA members are at the forefront of international research.
Rapid urbanization in developing countries, its impact on food supplies to urban areas and new consumer demands place fruit, vegetable and aromatic crops at the heart of the debate on future food supplies. To make products and commodity chains more competitive, AGRINATURA seeks to concentrate research and development support operations on establishing eco-friendly, sustainable integrated production systems and to support the emergence of high added value and specific productions.
Risk management for family agriculture
Agricultural producers face many uncertainties: high variability in output, unpredictable market prices, weather conditions, disease and pests, increased integration and inefficiencies in agricultural markets due to lack of basic physical, institutional and regulatory infrastructure. Reducing agricultural risks can have a positive impact on agriculture-dependent countries. AGRINATURA is aware of these difficulties and is actively exploring possibilities for risk management to secure the livelihoods of many millions of farmers.
AGRINATURA members contribute to a specialised working group for each area with the mandate to:
- map current experience and expertise in agricultural research and development;
- look for ways of adapting agricultural research and practices to climate change;
- develop capacity;
- explore opportunities for agricultural extensive services; and
- support research management initiatives.