Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Innovations and Research by private agribusiness in India: Carl E Pray and Latha Nagarrajan

There has been lot of discussion on need for second green revolution and very little on who will drive it and deliver the results. This paper can lead to informed discussion on this subject. Abstract from the report:

  Agricultural innovations in India have rapidly increased since the 1980s. Government data and surveys of seed firms show that from about 1990 to 2010 the number of new seed cultivars available to farmers in maize, wheat, and rice roughly doubled, while the number of cotton cultivars at least tripled. Biotechnology innovations went from zero in the 1990s to 5 genetically modified (GM) traits in hundreds of GM cotton cultivars by 2008. Pesticide registrations went from 104 in the period 1980–1989 to 228 during the period 2000–2010. Similar growth in innovations also occurred in the agricultural machinery, veterinary medicine, and agricultural processing industries.
These innovations have come from foreign technology transferred into India as well as from in-country public and—increasingly—private research. Based on interviews with firms and data from annual reports, we find that private investment in agricultural research grew from US$54 million in 1994/95 to US$250 million in 2008/09 (in 2005 dollars). Growth in private research and development (R&D) expenditure was particularly rapid in the seed and plant biotechnology industry, which grew by more than 10 times between the mid-1990s and 2009.
Private innovations have contributed to agricultural productivity and incomes. Research and innovation by private industry led to the boom in cotton exports and to rapid increases in exports of generic pesticides and agricultural machinery. Private hybrids of cotton, rice, maize, pearl millet, and sorghum increased yields over public hybrids, varieties, and landraces. Small farmers in some of the poorest regions of India—the semiarid tropics of central India and the rainfed rice regions of eastern India—get higher productivity with private hybrids.

One of  the suggestion for policy reform:
Invest in public research and higher education, and make scientists available to private research. The number of state agricultural universities (SAUs) and the students they produce have increased; however, the number of scientists at SAUs has declined, along with research funding per scientist (Jha and Kumar 2006; Ramaswamy and Selvaraj 2007). Drastic reforms and more resources are needed in graduate education and research at SAUs to train the young scientists that private firms are asking for. These reforms could include expanding government support for graduate education and research beyond Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) institutes and SAUs to nonagricultural institutes that have strong basic science programs. ICARs and SAUs should also re-examine research priorities to avoid duplicating research now conducted in the private sector and to concentrate on research for public goods. Where applied private research is strong, public research centers should shift their research focus to basic research that supports private applied research. At the same time, the private sector should contribute more financial and political support to public strategic research.

Any comments?

No comments: