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The Global Forum on Agricultural Research and Innovation (GFAR) coordinates hundreds of agencies and organisations internationally. Hildegard Lingnau, its executive secretary, told D+C/E+Z why researchers should focus more on family farms in the global south and why real innovation is about more than merely technological advancement.

The UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) is to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030. Some 10 % of humanity are currently suffering hunger. While there is enough food in principle, it is not distributed equitably. Is SDG2 achievable at all?
Unfortunately, it will probably not be achieved, as the UN secretary-general’s recent report on SDG progress has noted. Indeed, the situation is set getting worse. In 2020, 161 million more people were affected by hunger than in 2019. Some 2.4 billion lacked food security. The conclusion of the UN document is that a global food crisis is likely. We’ll have to do much more than in the past to achieve SDG2 or at least make some progress towards doing so by 2030.

What needs to happen?
There are no simple solutions, but it is obvious that we must focus more on smallholders and family farms. They account for about 84 % of agricultural businesses and produce about 35 % of all food around the world. On the other hand, diets must change. Meat consumption, for example, must be reduced.

The mission of GFAR is to increase global food supply. What do you focus on for that purpose?
GFAR is a network of networks. We cooperate with hundreds of agencies and organisations interested in the transformation of the agri-food system, including farmers associations, research centres, civil-society organisations and the private sector. We help them to network, get heard and become more involved in global agricultural research. GFAR depends on members’ initiatives and supports their priorities. On that basis, we organise joint projects, which we call “collective actions”.

Read the full D+C interview with our Executive Secretary Hildegard Lingnau here