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Agricultural R&D Policy: A Tragedy of the International Commons

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  • James, Jennifer S.
  • Pardey, Philip G.
  • Alston, Julian M.

Abstract

Over the past 50 years public agricultural research has contributed enormously to humanity, enabling the supply of food to grow faster than demand in spite of a rapidly growing population, income growth, and shrinking natural resources. Nonetheless, in many countries we see waning public support for agricultural R&D, especially in Africa, a diversion of research resources from farm productivity towards other agendas, and early warning signs of a slowdown in agricultural productivity. The world has continued to collectively underinvest in agricultural R&D because of domestic and international market failures associated with appropriability problems. Governments have failed to effectively address these problems, often doing too little, too late. This tragedy of the international commons may be getting worse. In the past, developing countries benefited considerably from technological spillovers from developed countries, but because of changes occurring in developed countries, spillovers from developed countries may not be available to developing countries in the same ways or to the same extent. In this article, the factors contributing to persistent global underinvestment in agricultural R&D are described from a developing-country perspective, estimates of agricultural R&D spending trends are presented, and incentive mechanisms for increasing rates of investment in agricultural R&D are described and assessed.

Suggested Citation

  • James, Jennifer S. & Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M., 2008. "Agricultural R&D Policy: A Tragedy of the International Commons," Staff Papers 43094, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:umaesp:43094
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.43094
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/43094/files/SP-IP-08-01.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Pardey, Philip G & Roseboom, Johannes & Craig, Barbara J, 1992. "A Yardstick for International Comparisons: An Application to National Agricultural Research Expenditures," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 333-349, January.
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    5. Tiffany Shih & Brian Wright, 2011. "Agricultural Innovation," NBER Chapters, in: Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors, pages 49-85, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alston, Julian M. & Freebairn, John W. & James, Jennifer S., 2004. "Levy-funded research choices by producers and society," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-32.
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    8. Pardey, Philip G. & Beintema, Nienke M. & Dehmer, Steven & Wood, Stanley, 2006. "Agricultural research: a growing global divide?," Food policy reports 17, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    Cited by:

    1. Ricardo de Avillez, 2011. "A Detailed Analysis of the Productivity Performance of the Canadian Primary Agriculture Sector," CSLS Research Reports 2011-06, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    2. Pooja Sharma & Ashok Gulati, 2015. "Approaches to Food Security in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, and Nigeria: Lessons for Developing Countries," Working Papers id:6427, eSocialSciences.
    3. Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2010. "The Economics of Innovation and Technical Change in Agriculture," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 939-984, Elsevier.
    4. Pooja Sharma & Ashok Gulati, 2012. "Approaches to Food Security in Brazil, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Nigeria: Lessons for Developing Countries," Working Papers id:4930, eSocialSciences.
    5. Wei-Ming Tian & Zhang-Yue Zhou, 2011. "Fluctuations of Prices in the World Grain Market: Policy Responses by the Chinese Government," Chapters, in: Lilai Xu (ed.), China’s Economy in the Post-WTO Environment, chapter 8, Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Agricultural and Food Policy; Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies;

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