A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

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altThe Vi organized a videoconference for professors and students of Russian affiliate members, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and St. Petersburg State University on September 30. A third Russian institution, the North-West Academy of Public Administration (NWAPA) also participated in the conference.

The subject was UNCTAD's Technology and Innovation Report (TIR) 2010, the first in a new series published by the Division on Technology and Logistics (DTL), home of the Virtual Institute.

Presenting the report, "Enhancing Food Security in Africa Through Science, Technology and Innovation," was DTL's Angel Gonzalez-Sanz.

The TIR points to innovation as a way to help Africa pull out of the agricultural productivity stagnation that has caused serious problems of food insecurity and a downturn in many of the continents' economies.

{pullquote}One of the main challenges we have identified...is that there is a "disconnect" between the needs of farmers and the kind of research that is taking place.{/pullquote}

"One of the main challenges we have identified...is that there is a "disconnect" between the needs of farmers and the kind of research that is taking place," Gonzalez-Sanz said. "Local research priorities have to be built into agricultural programmes."

He goes on to advocate that governments move beyond funding pure scientific activity to funding technology and innovation, which concerns the productive implementation of scientific advances, to benefit small farmers in developing countries.

Contributing to the video conference were Dmitry Lyakishev and Efim Stroev, of the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation in Geneva.

As Russia continues the process of accesion to the World Trade Organization, Lyakishev said that the issue of government support for the development of technology for agriculture is relevant to his country, as it relates to WTO discussions on agricultural subsidies. He added that some of the recommendations of the report could be useful in the effort of increasing the competitiveness of Russian farmers.

The conference, attended by approximately 60 participants, was the fifth for MGIMO and the first for St. Petersburg-based NWAPA, who has requested to participate in the next scheduled Russian videoconference, whose topic will be this year's World Investment Report.

"The videoconferences have become a very precious part of our courses in International Economics," said MGIMO's Vi member coordinator, Anna Abramova. "They give students the great opportunity to get at first-hand information about the key trends of world economy and trade policy changes."

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