The Shifting Structure of Agricultural R&D: Worldwide Investment Patterns and Payoffs
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The future path and pace of agricultural productivity growth areinextricably intertwined with investments in food and agricultural research and development (R&D). Looking back over half a century of evidence, we find that the lay of the global food and agricultural R&D land is changing, with indications that we are in the midst of an historic transition. The more notable trends are as follows: (1) for the first time in modern history (in purchasing power parity, PPP, terms), the middle-income countries now outspend the rich countries in terms of public-sector investments in food and agricultural R&D; (2) the shifting public shares reflect a continuing decline in the rate of growth of food and agricultural R&D spending by the rich countries, along with a generally sustained and substantial growth in spending by the middle-income countries (especially China, India, and Brazil); (3) in PPP terms, China now spends more than the United States on both public- and private-sector food and agricultural R&D; (4) the global share of food and agricultural R&D being conducted by the private sector has increased, especially in the high- and rapidly growing middle-income countries; and (5) the low-income countries are losing ground and account for an exceptionally small share of global spending. The mean and median values of the reported rates of return to food and agricultural R&D based on the IRR are high and remain so, with no signs of a diminution in the payoffs to more recent (compared with earlier) investments in R&D. But the available evidence on the returns to food and agricultural R&D is not fully representative of the institutional (i.e., public versus private), locational, or commodity orientation of the research and the agricultural sector itself.
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