To face the challenges ahead of them, farmers, foresters, food and bio-based industries need new knowledge that can be implemented on the ground. How do we improve competitiveness in an increasingly challenging economic environment, while securing sustainable use of resources and eco-system services? How do we contribute to food security? How do we empower rural people to boost and diversify their economy? These are questions to which research and innovation can contribute.
Creating knowledge to improve competitiveness and sustainability
The EU pursues three objectives through its Common agricultural policy: securing viable food production; ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and climate action and contributing to a balanced territorial development.
Delivering these objectives requires creating, sharing and implementing new knowledge, new technologies, new products and new ways to organise, learn or cooperate.
Main challenges for agriculture, forestry and food research by 2020
The EU supports agriculture and forestry projects under its Research and Innovation Framework, Horizon 2020. Projects are expected to help with:
- Improving production efficiency and coping with climate change, while ensuring sustainability and resilience
- Providing ecosystem services and public goods
- Empowering rural areas and supporting policies and rural innovation
- Fostering sustainable forestry
- Developing a sustainable and competitive agri-food industry
- Support market development for bio-based products and processes
Integrating the CAP and Research policy better
We want to ensure that research activities respond to ground-level needs and that solutions created are taken up by farmers and foresters. And so the EU has taken steps to bring science and practice closer together. The objective is to have a more demand-driven research policy and a more evidence-based agricultural policy.
The European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI) has been launched to support this objective. It links the different policies, works to facilitate a broader uptake of research and innovative solutions on the ground and to develop a research agenda which is more targeted to farmers' and foresters' needs.
Two funding streams for more innovative agriculture and forestry
Research and innovation will be financed mainly by two funding streams: Horizon 2020 (research & innovation) and the Rural development policy (innovation).
The EU nearly doubled its efforts with an unprecedented budget of nearly 4 billion euros allocated to Horizon 2020's Societal Challenge 2 'Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research, and the bioeconomy'. Aside from Societal challenge 2, several parts of Horizon 2020 are of interest to agriculture, forestry and the agri-food chain.
In synergy, the EU has set ' Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas' as the first priority for Rural development policy 2014-2020. Rural development programmes will finance agricultural and forestry innovation through several measures which can support creation of operational groups, innovation services, investments or other approaches.