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Cirad

Reviving perspectives on innovation in agriculture and food systems

Faure G., Chiffoleau Y., Goulet F., Temple L.. 2019. In : Agro-innovation, food quality and safety. Athènes : RNI, 2 p.. Spring of Innovation 2019, 2019-03-22, Athènes (Grèce).

In the agricultural and food sectors, innovation is characterized not only by specificities arising from its relationship to nature and social condition of food, but also from the wide diversity of its stakeholders, ranging from farmers to consumers, and including intermediaries such as the research community and advisory services. Innovation emerges from interactions between these actors, who mobilize resources and produce knowledge in collaborative mechanisms in order to generate changes. It encompasses domains as varied as production practices, resource management, market organization, or new food and eating habits. Innovation in agriculture and food system is also marked today by the convergence of global challenges, such as food security, climate change, ecological transition, social and territorial issues¿. Innovations are thus being reshaped in the current transitions of our societies, calling for new perspective to both economic actors and researchers who analyse on the evolution of agriculture and food. This communication presents the main insight from a research program carried out by the joint research unit ¿Innovation¿(Cirad, Inra, Montpellier Supagro), and based on the analysis of innovation processes in Europe and Southern countries1. Five points will be developed: - Innovation in the agricultural and agri-food sectors is the subject of increasing debates that give it a very political dimension. We present these debates according to five plans: the ethical considerations that define what is a "good" innovation; the definition of its objectives that go beyond the economic aspects and open up to the challenges of sustainable development; the debates on the beneficiaries of the innovation; the recognition of the actors of innovation and the way to innovate, with more open and collaborative methods that question the actors in agriculture and food sectors - Innovation in agriculture and food system is more and more analyzed by interdisciplinary research that combines a tradition of applied work with the academic contributions of "Innovation Studies", ¿transition studies¿ and "Science and Technology Studies". Innovation is thus increasingly analyzed as a complex process that results from interactions between many actors, intervening in a given context, associating technical, organizational and institutional dimensions. While some work continues to favor a highly technological vision of innovation, a growing body of research considers at the same time the central role of farmers and entrepreneurs, the influence of learning networks and the framing of more or less favorable institutions. - Globalization has not eliminated the specificities of agricultural and agrifood innovations. Indeed, it even tends to renew them, given the convergence of the transitions in which the sector is engaged. The specificity of these innovations emerges from the co-evolution of the anthropological relationships that underpin these activities, the inherited innovation systems built to regulate them and the global challenges they must address. - these innovations refer to different agricultural and food production models that go beyond the 'industrial vs alternative' divide, and in particular to models of differentiated quality (naturalistic, ethical, origin or proximity); the coexistence of these models in most countries appears both as a feature of globalization and as a sectoral specificity; while innovations can be part of each of these models, they can also result from their combinations and interactions. - these new perspectives on innovation in agriculture and food systems generates a set of new methods on supporting innovation: co-design approaches for innovative technical systems using modeling and experimentation with farmers; evolution of consulting and device based on NTIC and multi-stakeholder collectives to facilitate innovation; new methods for evaluating the impacts of innovations on development dynamics, reinforcing the iss...

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