What is the role of the private sector in agricultural R&D in developing countries? And what government policies enhance private sector innovation?
A series of country reports and thematic papers published by ASTI—based on a collaborative project led by Rutgers University, IFPRI, and McGill University—address these questions and examine recent trends in private sector agricultural R&D in a number of developing countries.
Over the past decades, technologies transferred by foreign private companies have been a major source of innovation in eight countries in South Asia and Africa (Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia), especially in the areas of crop protection, agrochemicals, poultry farming, agricultural machinery, and processing. In addition to technology transfer, many local and multinational companies conduct some level of in-country research.
Despite the private sector’s role in agricultural innovation, there is still scope for improvement. Public policy and regulatory reforms could significantly reduce the time, effort and costs associated with bringing new technologies and products to the agricultural sector. Farmers, rural entrepreneurs, and agribusinesses could benefit from reductions in lengthy administrative procedures to import agricultural inputs, removals of cumbersome regulations for registering new products, and improvements in tax incentives for investments in research.
Few studies have been able to take a close look at private investment in agricultural research and its drivers in developing countries. Researchers for the current studies collected and analyzed data on private agricultural R&D capacity and investment from hundreds of companies in the eight countries in South Asia and Africa. The reports examined trends in private investment in research, interactions between technology transfer and research investment, and the policies that influence private research and innovation in the agricultural sector.
The series of reports offers a number of policy recommendations aimed at promoting greater private sector involvement in agricultural research. It also makes a case for more in-depth analysis on the impact of policy changes on private sector innovation, and the impact of private sector innovation on productivity and poverty.