Scidev.net has organised an online debate, which will take place their website on Tuesday 9 June starting at 1pm British Summer Time (GMT+1).

For over two hours, an expert panel will help steer a discussion on why farmers in developing countries are not improving productivity by adopting a greater number of innovative technologies.

Delivering food security for everyone on the planet is a monumental challenge. The global population is set to increase by over two billion by 2050 and, coupled with increasing incomes, this will inevitably lead to a rising demand for food. Yet the effects of soil erosion, climate change and an increasing shortage of water due to over irrigation are likely to lead to a loss of farmland. To attain food security, farmers will have to become ever more innovative. But many farmers in the developing world are slow to adopt technological innovations, ranging from improved maize varieties to the use of information technology. Our online discussion will explore the possible reasons for this.

The debate is being organised alongside the Cornell Alliance for Science, a global initiative for science-based agricultural communications. Accompanying the debate is an introductory piece by the alliance’s director, Sarah Davidson Evanega, on the importance of engaging with farmers to increase the uptake of agricultural innovation.

Debate questions:

  • What barriers are preventing new technologies from reaching local farmers?
  • What can be done to improve the spread of information on new technologies?
  • Can farmers access training in the use of new technologies? What more can be done to ensure that training reaches farmers in remote areas?
  • Why is there a reluctance to accept new farming methods?
  • How can technology be better designed to meet the needs of smallholder farmers in the global South? Do innovations tend to be designed instead for the interests of large-scale agribusiness in the North?
  • How can farmers get more involved in the design and adaptation of tech, drawing on their own experience and expertise?
  • Is there a danger that some innovations — for example new seed varieties — will leave farmers dependent on the owners of these new products?

The debate will draw on the experience and expertise of academics and SciDev.Net staff from around the world.

The online debate will precede an offline debate — also co-organised by SciDev.Net and the Cornell Alliance for Science — on 10 June looking at the role of journalists in promoting technological choice for farmers. This will take place at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul, South Korea.

Via SciDev.net