Agricultural Research and Innovation – Romania`s Farming Industry of Tomorrow

Conference on Research and Innovation in Agriculture – Brussels, 7 March 2011

We are now getting ready for the farming industry of tomorrow, a sector which, in the twenty-first century, will have to be sustainable and innovative in order to be competitive and integrated into society and therefore I am determined to support research, innovation and knowledge sharing in the farming sector. We need to put all this at the very core of our concerns, to make not only the financial but also the intellectual investment necessary, and to follow the process through to its conclusion, namely real-life application.

The European Commission is proposing to double the funding available for this area Europe-wide and to put in place a complete toolbox capable of amplifying the efforts put into agronomic research and innovation.

The challenges: We are entering a world in which there are many uncertainties which affect agricultural production and the sustainability of the farming profession: economic uncertainty, and the unprecedented volatility of the markets; climate and environment-related uncertainties, with more frequent and more extreme unforeseen events; health-related uncertainties, with climate change and a new range of diseases not previously experienced at these latitudes, affecting all areas of human, animal and plant health.

Research subject areas need to be expanded

Nowadays the challenges are complex ones which force us to adopt another perspective on farming so as to be able to consider all its various aspects. From now on, all research avenues need to be explored in order to fulfill our political objectives:

  • food security ;
  • the management of natural resources ;
  • but also aspects related to the agricultural economy as such, including, for example, the issue of adding value within the food chain, the organisation of specific sectors and the balanced development of rural areas.

All these problem areas need to be addressed in an inclusive way. What is a good idea for food security is only a good idea if it also respects ecosystems and the capacity of our natural resources, of our land, to keep producing food sustainably – for us, our children and our grandchildren.

All these problem areas need to be addressed in an inclusive way. What is a good idea for food security is only a good idea if it also respects ecosystems and the capacity of our natural resources, of our land, to keep producing food sustainably – for us, our children and our grandchildren.

We need to change our working methods

We need to shift away from a knowledge-transfer culture to a culture in which all stakeholders are integrated into and participate in the research process so as to cross-fertilise approaches and thinking. Genuine concertation along the entire agronomic knowledge chain will make it possible to work more effectively on two counts:

• Releasing the wealth of knowledge available and making it accessible.
• Developing the knowledge which will shape the farming industry of tomorrow. In order to achieve both objectives, we need to do away with distinction between the scientific world and real-life practice.

Both sides have to be involved in defining problems, analysing situations, investigating solutions and spreading knowledge.

The EU must be a facilitator, making available an efficient toolbox for research and innovation

Thanks to the Horizon 2020 Programme, the expanded Farm Advisory Service (FAS), the rural development programmes and the new European Innovation Partnership, the following priority areas are addressed:

• Improving the identification of problem issues to be researched;
• Promoting research in all areas and for all agricultural structures;
• Supporting not only pure research but also applied research and innovation;

Knowledge transfer is a key element in a “bottom-up” approach, providing an effective response to practical questions.

The budgetary resources allocated to achieving this are sizeable, and the European Commission has stepped up to the mark, undertaking to boost its capacity for action. It is also vital to boost the participation of all stakeholders and the synergies between them. This will undoubtedly prove the key to success in years to come.

Danube Alliance Magazine No. 5 – February-March 2012

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