The World Bank, Washington DC | June 12-15, 2018




Multiple changes in the structure of the food system and agriculture raise new opportunities and challenges for the agricultural sector.  In the developing world, these changes started in Asia and Latin America, and are rapidly emerging in Africa. Urbanization and increased urban demand for food, fiber, and fuel present new market opportunities for farmers, entrepreneurs, and agribusiness in the developing world. Growing concerns over climate change, pollution and food safety are reflected in increasing consumer demand for environmental services from agriculture, electricity and fuel from biomass, and improved food quality from the food and agricultural sector.  Failure to adapt to these changes may cause the rural sector and smallholder farmers to fall further behind. 

Rapid advances in the biological sciences and information technology are developing new technologies and services that facilitate response to changing food systems and provide new opportunities for increasing agricultural productivity and rural employment, and improving the efficiency of the agricultural value chain.  But they can also disrupt traditional value chains. 
Adapting to these changes requires a rapid transformation of all segments of the agricultural supply chain: the farms (upstream), the processing, storage and wholesaling (midstream) and retailing and delivery to consumers (downstream). Decision-makers who are not aware of these institutional changes and technological opportunities – and do not have the information systems that monitor them – will slow economic development. There is a need to understand and rethink governance, policies and regulations under this changing reality.  Governments, donors, the private sector should target their interventions towards a more inclusive value chain approach to support smallholders and local enterprises to effectively participate in all segments of the value chain to ensure that farmers and rural economies can benefit—rather than be excluded—from this transformation through increased productivity, increased incomes, and improved nutrition. Understanding these changes is also crucial to designing interventions to reduce pollution and assist in adaption to climate change.

Against this backdrop, there has still been limited research and few evidence-based development programs based on the new economics of value chains, especially in food and agriculture. The conference will focus on the impact of new value chains and technology on agribusiness and farmers and their capacity to implement innovation, and the policy and institutional implications of transforming value chain and the agri-food system.

The ICABR Conference on “Disruptive Innovations, Value Chains and Rural Development” organized in partnership with the World Bank, will serve as a multidisciplinary forum of discussion to facilitate interactions between leading academics, World Bank staff, policymakers, government experts, civil society organizations, private-sector representatives, and representatives of other international organizations to showcase the present frontier knowledge on these issues.

The conference will be organized with contributed papers, organized sessions, policy panels and round-table discussions with the private sector. We highly encourage participation from the private sector to showcase their innovative products and bring real-world perspectives to the discussions of the nature and consequences of innovations in the value chain for farm-based food, fuel, and fiber products.

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