Global challenges, including the recent food and financial crises and climate change, highlight the need for continued and scaled-up investments in agricultural research and development (R&D).
Following a decade of slow growth in the 1990s, global public spending on agricultural R&D increased by 22% from 2000 to 2008, from $26.1bn to $31.7bn, according to the new report by IFPRI.
Middle-income countries have been the main drivers of global growth in recent years. China and India accounted for nearly half the global increase, but spending also rose significantly in a number of other more advanced developing countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Nigeria, and Russia. Growth was particularly strong from 2005 to 2008.
Most notably in Brazil and China, long-term government commitment to agricultural R&D and a supportive policy environment have fuelled increased agricultural productivity, as well as overall economic growth. This demonstrates the benefits of sustained government investments, according to the report.
Agricultural research spending in low-income countries, on average, grew by 2% per year from 2000 to 2008, with spending in many countries stagnating or declining. A large number of low-income countries, particularly in Africa south of the Sahara, are highly vulnerable to volatile research funding, often the result of the short-term, project-oriented nature of donor and development bank funding.