Research for the innovation of the agri-food system in international cooperation
AbstractIn the last few decades, characterized by intense environmental, landscape and socio-economic-financial changes, unexpected issues concerning the primary sector are arising and asks to researchers an urgent and deep reformulation both of the conceptual and technological tools used in the applied research. The concept of innovation is now radically changed, starting from a prevailing formula of linear top-down technology transfer, which has characterized the green revolution of the 1960s, to nowadays approach characterized by the innovation of a complex system, aimed at creating sustainable and shared opportunities through economic and institutional development. Those who now work in public or private bodies oriented to research for innovation are struggling to maintain their specific study area, but within integrated schemes where technical and scientific aspects are in interaction with organizational, institutional and political issues. Innovation can tackle several issues: new products, new technologies, new markets, new procedures (institutions) and new policies. The series of scientific and conceptual tools framed into the Agro-ecology domain seems appropriate to plan development initiatives of which the primary objective is ensuring a sustainable management of all the resources involved in agricultural production processes, while promoting food security and sovereignty, as well as protecting the rural landscape. By studying a target agro-ecosystem it is possible to identify and characterize the relationships between both the internal components and the system structures and functions at different levels of complexity of plot, farm and country, without neglecting the interactions among scientific, technological and socio-economic factors, and ultimately tending towards a science aimed at conflict resolution. Given the challenges that agricultural development is going to face in the next decades, it is indeed essential to support the planning and implementation of sound agro-ecological policies through an appropriate set of advanced tools. Particularly, a key aspect to empower all the stakeholders involved in the research, development, dissemination and application of new methods and technologies is the identification of information and communication systems that farmers and policy makers need in order to cope with fast-changing conditions in a complex system. University and research centers can act as institutional facilitators of dialogue and development policies among different stakeholders, catalyzing participation and promoting participatory problem-solving strategies for agricultural development and cooperation.
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