China and India driving research spending in agriculture

Plant-RDGlobal agricultural R&D spending steadily increased between 2000 and 2008. (Image source: Eunice/Flickr)Global agricultural research and development spending in the public and private sectors steadily increased between 2000 and 2008


Most of this growth was driven by larger middle-income countries such as China and India.

These conclusions were made by Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) Global Assessment of Agricultural R&D Spending, a report published in collaboration with the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR). It discusses the key trends in global agricultural R&D evidenced by the latest available data, global challenges, including the recent food and financial crises and climate change and highlights the need for continued and scaled-up investments in agricultural R&D.

Following a decade of slow growth in the 1990s, global public spending on agricultural R&D increased by 22 per cent from 2000 to 2008 - from US$26bn to US$31bn.

Middle-income countries have been the main drivers of global growth in recent years; spending growth in high-income countries stalled. China and India accounted for nearly half the global increase, but spending also rose significantly in a number of other middle-income 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 fueled increased agricultural productivity, as well as overall economic growth.

Although agricultural research spending continued to grow in low-income countries overall from 2000 to 2008, in many, spending stagnated or declined. These 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. Additionally, R&D agencies in these countries lack the necessary human, operating, and infrastructure resources to successfully develop, adopt, and disseminate science and technology innovations.

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