Pakistan has one of the largest agricultural research systems among developing countries, employing over 3,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) researchers. Agricultural R&D investment in the country increased during 2000–09, albeit at an irregular pace. However, based on a number of indicators, Pakistan appears to be falling behind other South Asian countries, according to a newly released country note by ASTI and the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC).
In recent years, agricultural research spending has fallen out of step with AgGDP growth. In 2009, Pakistan spent just 0.21 percent of its agricultural GDP on R&D, one of the lowest levels in the developing world. The country’s share of agricultural researchers holding PhD degrees and the overall proportion of female scientists also continue to be very low by international standards. Finally, private investment in agricultural research has grown but remained relatively small as of 2009.
These financial and capacity challenges have occurred at a time of institutional uncertainty. Spending and capacity patterns have fluctuated as agencies adjust to the devolution and reorganization of responsibilities across national, provincial, and local levels of government. Provincial institutes have taken on a larger role in agricultural research, but questions remain as to whether they are resourced and structured to do so effectively. This period of change has, however, offered opportunities to review existing structures and reassess research priorities. Whether the changes will yield advancements both in the system itself and in agricultural productivity remains to be seen.