Dean Mohtar participated in FAO's 10th Zoominar (November 12) on the Role of public policies in supporting innovation for sustainable agri-food system transformation in the Near East and North Africa Region.
The Dean co-moderated, with Reem Nejdawi (UN-ESCWA), a breakout session focused on revitalizing the agri-food sector in Mashreq countries. During that session, he addressed the key steps and accelerators needed to facilitate implementation and scale up of digital agriculture and innovation in the region.
The open discussion considered the role of public policy and governance in supporting innovation in the agriculture sector. Areas of focus included national digital technology (development and adoption), building basic digital infrastructure, increasing investment in agricultural research for innovation, modernizing and strengthening extension services, encouraging digital agri-preneurship. Also discussed were the development of an AgriTech toolbox (to support SMEs, farmers, and policymakers), ensuring financial inclusion and social protection, enabling the use of new ICT applications, and addressing the needs of small-scale farmers.
The session identified the main constraints to digital transformation of agriculture in Mashreq and provided a road map to influence governments in addressing the potential of post-COVID agricultural innovation. There was special emphasis on the role of youth and gender in accessing these technologies, which if pursued, would enhance innovation and inform areas of cooperation and support to achieve food security in the region. The Zoominar gathered an audience of more than 100 participants from government representatives, academia, and other regional stakeholders.