Innovations in rural development approaches and solutions are crucial to improve the effectiveness of agrifood systems and better meet the rising demand for food worldwide. Innovations are thus critical for IFAD to achieve its mandate of investing in rural people and enabling inclusive and sustainable rural transformation.
The evaluation found that innovations are indeed key in boosting the performance of agrifood systems. IFAD-supported innovations are generally institutional or organizational in nature, and usually originate with IFAD or project staff, based on ideas or solutions already proven in a different country or context. As for developing genuinely novel ideas or processes (especially those addressing smallholder agriculture challenges), loan investment projects have little appetite to provide support in this respect, given the risk potentially associated with such innovations; grants are thus especially useful in promoting them.
Moving forward, the evaluation notes that “bundling” together different innovations to address the diverse challenges across the agrifood system is more likely to lead to transformative change, that can be sustained and scaled up. To enhance the bundling of innovations for transformative change, the evaluation recommends (among other things) setting corporate goals for IFAD’s innovation agenda and implementing an operational framework aligned with these goals, as well as fostering the innovation culture within the Fund.