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Agriculture is the foundation industry of all nations that undergirds all other economic sectors. Science plays a key role in improving agriculture and empowering both people and nations to rise above poverty, which is the source of much misery and conflict in the modern world. Far too many nations today are unable to feed their people and lack the economic resources to buy food. Over half the world's six billion people live under significant deprivation.
Public sector agricultural research has a critical role to play in eliminating poverty around the world. The private sector cannot fill the unique role served by public agricultural research, for several reasons. Private investment priorities are driven by market factors and may not support national interest (such as health and safety monitoring and enforcement) to the same degree as public research. In addition, governments conduct basic/applied research to spur economic growth and development without any expectation for direct public remittance.
Rising demand for food and agricultural products can be met through (1) expanding resources used in production, or (2) raising the productivity of existing resources, measured as total factor productivity (TFP) growth. National agricultural research and development (R&D) capacity is a key determinant of a country’s long-run TFP growth. China and Brazil, for example, have invested heavily in agricultural R&D and out-performed the world in TFP growth.
At this seminar, Ibrahim Shaqir will discuss the role of public sector agricultural research and make the case for increased investment in agricultural R&D.