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Innovative solutions needed in agriculture to respond to climate change

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Digital technology, drones and data analytics are vital, says FAO Director- General

11 December 2019, Madrid - FAO Director-General, QU Dongyu, said today innovation was vital to build resilience and competitiveness in agriculture and to meet the urgent challenges presented by climate change.

The Director-General was speaking at the 10th Annual Sustainable Innovation Forum at the COP25 climate summit in Madrid. He said global food systems had to greatly increase productivity and feed a growing population without jeopardizing our natural resources and ecosystems.

"Innovative solutions to climate change challenges are more vital than ever - they are the key multiplier to transformation," Qu said.

He said Climate-Smart Agriculture, an initiative that FAO had championed since 2010, was helping to transform agricultural systems and meet the challenge presented by the current climate emergency.

CSA seeks to increase agricultural productivity and incomes, build resilience and adapt to climate change, and where possible reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions.

Qu said innovative solutions can help to optimize CSA for the world's most vulnerable people. He said the use of drones and advanced image data analytics can enable the early identification of pests and diseases, while early warning systems offer information to farmers via their mobile phones that can advise them on when to plant or sell their livestock.

"This reduces their risks and losses and boosts food and livelihood security," Qu said.

The Director-General said FAO had developed an early warning and monitoring system to control the spread of the crop-eating pest, Fall Armyworm and a sterile insect technique to eradicate the Mediterranean fruit fly in the Dominican Republic.

He also cited FAO's work in developing hydroponics in arid environments such as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and promoting more inclusive agricultural supply chains that increased the income of coffee growers in Ethiopia.

Qu emphasized that FAO intends to accelerate its activities to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals through the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, which is a unique opportunity to create partnerships between donors and recipients across the public and private sectors, and through a new Office for Innovation, which the Director-General has created.