Reprioritizing R&D Spending


To achieve food and nutrition security for a growing population, sustainable agriculture, and the SDGs, global agri-food systems must be transformed. Agriculture transformation will require innovation, driven by the needs of farmers, consumers, and the environment. Research is at the center of this process. Investments in agri-food system research in developing countries will have to be scaled up, from both public and private sectors, and target poverty, nutrition, and sustainability issues in the agri-food system.

There are gaps in the agri-food research landscape that are not addressed by the private sector because they care about issues facing poor farmers, people, and communities where the private sector will see little value creation potential. These gaps will have to be addressed by the public sector innovation system from a food and nutrition security perspective. However, this research may not always address the needs of farmers and consumers, or it does not get to them due to a lack of connections and brokers for the route to market.

To understand the level and composition of national Research & Development spending, we conduct studies in five Sub-Saharan African and Asian countries with the support of local research partners. Activities in Nigeria were completed with the support of Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Limited. Studies are also conducted in China (in collaboration with China Agriculture University), Indonesia (in collaboration with Indonesia‚Äôs Agricultural Researchers Alliance), and Kenya (in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization).

The study explores the following research questions:

  1. What are the current spending levels, main initiatives, and drivers of national public and private R&D spending on food and agriculture?
  2. What gaps are being faced by poor farmers and consumers that are not supported by the current system?
  3. What should be the priorities to tackle these gaps and what needs to shift in ways of managing the public R&D system to deliver on those priorities?

The study aims to shed light on the past and current focus of the public agriculture and food R&D agenda, show major shifts and trends in both public and private research spending at the country level, and provide recommendations on how to reorient the future R&D agenda. The study findings are presented and discussed at a country level and will enable policymakers to reflect on the direction future innovations should take.