|Updates were made to this Module on 11/21/2006.
Higher rates of growth in agricultural productivity are essential to promote broad-based economic growth, reduce rural poverty, and conserve natural resources. Productivity growth, in turn, is based largely on the application of science, technology, and information provided through national agricultural research and development (R&D) systems¾not just public organizations, but all organizations that generate, share, import, and use agricultural knowledge and information.
Rationale for Investment
Investment in agricultural science and technology (S&T) has been critically important to past growth performance, and it is likely to be even more important for achieving future global development priorities, especially the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving poverty and hunger by 2015. In 2000, the total global spending on agricultural R&D was $36.5 billion (Pardey et al., forthcoming). Regional variation in research investments is considerable (Box 2.1). The challenge in deciding future investments in agricultural R&D is to maintain past productivity gains, while supporting technological innovation in more diverse agricultural systems that will differentiate products and add value by processing, which will enable rural producers to capture a larger share of the gains. Accordingly, the World Bank’s current rural strategy, Reaching the Rural Poor, places high priority on investments in agricultural S&T.
Box 2.1 Regional trends in agricultural R&D spending
During the 1990s, developing countries undertook more of the world’s public agricultural research than developed countries. The Asia-Pacific region has continued gaining ground, accounting for an increasing share of the developing country total since the early 1980s. In 2000 just two countries in that region, India and China, accounted for 39 percent of the entire developing world’s public expenditure on agricultural research and development (R&D). In stark contrast, Sub-Saharan Africa has continued to reduce expenditure on agricultural R&D, accounting for only 11.4 percent of the developing country total in 2000. Among rich countries, public agricultural R&D is increasingly concentrated among just four countries—France, Germany, Japan,, and the USA—which account for two-thirds of agricultural R&D spending in rich countries.
Of the global spending on agricultural R&D—amounting to US$36.5 billion—about 37 percent comes from private firms, which direct 94 percent of these resources to developed countries. In the Asia-Pacific region, 8 percent of agricultural research spending is private, compared with only 2 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Source: CGIAR Science Council 2005