Blog: Why do we need innovation in agriculture?

The development of agricultural food industry and integrated supply chains with globalization, technological and corporate advancements and environmental effects have all widened the scope of agriculture. Additionally, global financial crises in recent years have revealed a weakness in the implementation and sustainability of current growth models and agricultural policies. New structural solutions are therefore required. Aside from these issues, modern growth theory considers technological change as the engine of economic development. It is often pointed out that the use of technology will contribute significantly to rural development and a decline in poverty. Developments in science, technology, and engineering are main instruments to help reach these goals and to bring about the changes stated above.

Developments stated above have impacted many countries in the world including Turkey. The use of technology in world economies is a determining factor in competition and affects the agricultural industry as well. Therefore, technology not only produces major results in growth and employment in agriculture but especially in rural development and lowering poverty. Additionally, sustainable and eco-friendly agricultural production have been major questions awaiting answers.

Innovation is a major instrument in social and economic development; especially, eco-friendly innovation stimulates not only production but an efficient use of natural resources as well. As a result of changing economic, political, and ecological conditions in the world, innovations now enable higher value in unprocessed raw material within a chain; processing, packaging, storage, delivery, and distribution of food after production and food safety. Consequently, use of technology in agriculture accelerates growth and development with effective production through said processes. The ultimate impact of technology use and innovation can be achieved in decreasing poverty through rural development.

Considering Turkey’s performance in innovation in recent years, the output is not at a desirable rate despite improved momentum in the last few years. Both in terms of R&D and in scope, innovation has not created influence in the wider society. The main responsibility of the public sector in Turkey is to build the infrastructure for innovation to thrive upon, lay the financial and legal groundwork and especially corporate structure to encourage innovation and to support innovation economically with incentives. Turkey also needs detailed research into the agricultural industry and innovation capacity and practices. In particular, the identification of conditions under which farmers prefer innovation and the analysis of innovative farmer profiles will contribute to the success of policies to be adopted.

A mental framework must be developed for innovation, especially for the use of technology. Both in terms of R&D and scope; the users, i.e. farmers, must clearly understand how the development of and implementation of innovation will bear potential contributions in Turkish agriculture. R&D’s goal must not be limited to a certain percentage of budget allocation or figures to be achieved. It must be well appreciated that the contributions of science to the society are among the most important preconditions to sustain agricultural production in Turkey.

Increasing productivity in agriculture, boosting the income of farmers which is a main goal of the industry, as well as reducing poverty and developing rural areas are not unattainable goals. Revenue growth among small farmers as well as corporate companies in Turkey’s agricultural industry and food chain will translate into a considerable growth in social welfare in the country. Detailed and comprehensive analyses and plans are needed to boost productivity and reduce poverty in rural areas with development. Considering the efficient use of natural resources, food security, and the effects of climate change, taking action in no time becomes imperative.