The new country note released by ASTI and the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC) reveals that Bangladesh’s agricultural R&D system is on a path toward great improvement, but its future requires nurturing. In recent years, there have been large fluctuations in levels of agricultural R&D investment. After peaking in 2000, public expenditures on agricultural R&D fell by more than one-third during 2000–03, but quickly recovered in recent years. During 2007–09, agricultural R&D spending levels once again declined. In 2009, Bangladesh invested 2.9 billion takas or 125.9 million purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars in agricultural R&D (both in constant 2005 prices).
During 2003–09, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) agricultural researchers rose steadily from 1,876 to 2,074. Despite this overall positive trend, a large number of vacancies remain at BARC-affiliated agencies and the coming retirement of many experienced PhD-qualified researchers because of a low retirement age are causes for concern. Furthermore, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, more than 400 PhD researchers left Bangladesh’s agricultural R&D system.
The National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP) financed by the World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the national government was instituted to address financial, human resource, and structural challenges facing agricultural R&D in Bangladesh. As part of NATP, a competitive grants fund has been established and BARC has put together a human resource development plan to implement during 2009–25. Furthermore, the recently approved BARC Act will strengthen BARC’s coordinating role by requiring BARC’s approval of research programs among all the BARC-affiliated agencies, as well giving BARC the responsibility of allocating financial resources among the agencies.
These changes have put Bangladesh’s agricultural R&D system on a path toward great improvement. Its future is dependent upon the Bangladesh government’s continued (stable) investment in agricultural R&D, the provision of greater incentives to Bangladesh’s agricultural R&D staff, as well as a further increase in the retirement age of agricultural scientists.