More than 500 million family farms manage most of world’s agricultural land and produce most of its food. They are very diverse, including many who are poor with low levels of productivity. All of them must become more innovative to ensure sustainable productivity growth. Strategies to support innovation must recognize the diversity among family farms and focus on increasing yields, preserving natural resources and raising rural incomes. This requires an innovation system that facilitates and coordinates the activities of all stakeholders involved in agricultural innovation. It begins with an enabling environment for innovation, including good governance, stable macroeconomic conditions, transparent legal and regulatory regimes, secure property rights and market infrastructure, but includes much more. Public investment in agricultural R&D and extension and advisory services must be increased and focused on sustainability and on raising the productivity of small and medium-sized farmers. R&D and extension services must be inclusive and responsive to farmers’ needs. Investments are needed in education and training. Capacity to innovate also depends on effective farmers’ organizations as well as networks and linkages allowing different actors in the innovation system to share information and work towards common objectives.
Following the ban in logging of natural forests in 1989, Thailand instituted a number of measures to promote private sector involvement in forest plantations. Small farmholders were encouraged to invest in forest plantations, especially by raising long rotation indigenous timber species. While the programme achieved much enthusiasm at the start, only about 40 percent of the planned 1.2 million hectares were planted despite the provision of various incentives. The Royal Forest Department followed this up with other measures which likewise did not fare well and hence sought the assistance of FAO in developing a well-defined national strategy to promote tree cultivation in private lands to meet the demand in wood supply. This publication documents the outcome and recommendations of the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme project begun in 2009 entitled “Participation of Tree Plantation Farmers in Sustainable Forest Management”.