Innovation is happening everywhere and in Europe, scientists, industry and farmers, collectively and individually are currently working on new ways to produce, store and market food products, according to Phil Hogan,

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Affairs said it is happening all along the value chain, from upstream science to downstream investments, via social innovation.

“For example, smart farming systems using cameras, sensors and other forms of technology are being tested to improve irrigation efficiency or reduce use of pesticides by improving detection of diseases; EU seedbanks contain a wealth of genetic material that can be exploited to develop new varieties.”

He said that European industry is a global leader in robotic farming, our agricultural innovation system needs to be strengthened and further developed.

“There is a massive potential and also a pressing need to do more. There is evidence that the links between research, farmers and the industry are still too weak. Too many innovations are still left unexploited and too many research questions from the sector remain unanswered.

“Agricultural knowledge and innovation systems need to be made more efficient and interactive.”

The new tools we have put on the table for 2014-2020 are there to ensure we really succeed, he said, highlighting two dedicated agricultural and forestry innovation instruments.

The European Innovation Partnership, or EIP, on ‘Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability’, and the European research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 are two key instruments, he said.

“Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability is a European initiative setup to boost innovation through networking and collective work, though European level activities as well as in ground-level projects throughout the EU.

“The strategy of the agri EIP is to bring partners from research, farming, industry, NGOs and the advisory sector together in ‘operational groups’ to work on common innovative projects funded under the rural development programmes.”