Significant increases in agricultural research and development are needed to meet challenges currently faced by global agriculture, including growing demand for healthy, nutritious, affordable food while providing for farmers’ income and welfare, protecting the environment and responding to climate change.
Despite this need, investment in agriculture research and development is stagnant, and in some cases declining, in real terms, particularly in high-income countries like the United States and Australia.
There have also been concerns raised about the effectiveness and economic efficiency of resource use and management when it comes to the allocation of funds to projects and programs with highest potential payoffs.
Other concerns include the opportunity costs of scientists’ time, morale and other resources that are spent in applying for and managing funds and meeting reporting requirements. There is also a perceived erosion of scientific expertise in core disciplines including crop science and ecology.
SARDI: Professor Victor Sadras
Stagnation or decline in public investment in Agriculture research and development, especially high-income countries like the United States and Australia, as well as concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of use of resources.
A seminar was held to outline propositions for improved focus on Agriculture research and development investment and to demonstrate the impact of science and technology with emphasis on genetic improvement and agronomy.
The core objectives of the project were to determine:
In the field
A successful meeting was held in Adelaide, with 30 participants from across the world attending. Those attendees had a vast range of expertise, from molecular biology to agricultural economics.
The meeting outlined the economic rationale for government involvement in supporting agricultural research and development and in facilitating private agricultural research and development and public-private partnerships.
The impact of science and technology, with emphasis on genetic improvement and agronomy was discussed and emphasised.
During the presentation of the papers a pattern emerged, with issues related to trade-offs, biological and agronomic context, reductionism and oversimplification consistently arising whether it be in respect to scale and discipline, molecular to global, crop improvement to water and nutrient management. It was thought these issues were contributing to compromising returns on investment.
It was concluded at the end of the meeting that there is an urgent need to increase resources for agricultural research and development and to halt the concerning trend of erosion in core scientific expertise.
There were three high-level propositions which were advanced as a result of the workshop which were:
As well as these high-level propositions, there is the possibility of holding a GRDC-sponsored follow up workshop with a narrower focus on Australian agriculture.