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Agricultural Research Policy

Agricultural Research Policy

Vernon W. Ruttan
Copyright Date: 1982
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Agricultural Research Policy
    Book Description:

    Agricultural Research Policy was first published in 1982. The ability to develop and manage an agricultural technology appropriate to a nation’s physical and cultural endowments is the single most important variable in achieving an increase in productivity. In this book on issues of agricultural research policy, Vernon W. Ruttan, a former economist with wide experience in agricultural development, addresses the problem of how to maximize gains by rethinking the organization and goals of global, national, and local systems of agricultural research. Ruttan asserts that an effective research institution must relate its goals to the particular economic and political environment in which it operates and discusses the ethical and social consequences of technological change. He then reviews the criticisms that have been leveled against agricultural development and attempts to provide research scientists and managers a larger context within which to make responsible decisions. Agricultural Research Policy will be a valuable sourcebook for all involved in agricultural research: institute directors, officers of ministries, agencies, and foundations which fund research, and students in agricultural research administration. Elmer Kiehl, Executive Director of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, says the book “will serve as a basic guideline for any country embarking on strengthening its capability.”

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6435-1
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Chapter 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    Throughout most of human history, increases in agricultural output have been achieved almost entirely from increases in area cultivated—by the expansion of the cultivated margin of existing villages, the establishment of new villages, and the opening of frontier lands to cultivation. The few exceptions to this generalization—in East Asia, the Fertile Crescent (Iraq and Egypt), and parts of Western Europe—were more important as indicators of the gains that would be achieved in the 20th century than as significant contributions to the world’s food supplies.

    By the end of the 20th century, almost all of the increase in...

  5. Chapter 2 Technical Change and Agricultural Development
    (pp. 17-44)

    The capacity to develop and to manage technology in a manner consistent with a nation’s physical and cultural endowments is the single most important variable accounting for differences in agricultural productivity among nations.¹ The development of such capacity depends on many factors. These include the capacity to organize and to sustain the institutions that generate and transmit scientific and technical knowledge, the ability to embody new technology in equipment and materials, the level of husbandry skill and the educational accomplishments of rural people, the efficiency of input and product markets, and the effectiveness of social and political institutions.

    The purpose...

  6. Chapter 3 The Agricultural Research Institution
    (pp. 45-65)

    The basic functional unit in any research system is the experiment station, the research institute, or the laboratory. This chapter presents a model of the process by which a research institution transforms the resources available to it into new knowledge. Next, the processes by which new knowledge is generated by individual scientists and research teams are discussed. The final section of the chapter presents a framework for analyzing the returns from the new knowledge produced by a research institution and considers the process by which the research system itself is transformed by the demands that society places on it.


  7. Chapter 4 National Agricultural Research Systems
    (pp. 66-115)

    Does the way in which a national agricultural research system is organized and funded affect its productivity or its effectiveness in generating a continuous stream of new technology capable of enhancing agricultural growth?¹ In this chapter I present a series of case studies in order to illustrate how several countries have attempted to organize their agricultural research systems. I also attempt to draw some lessons from the experiences of these research systems for the relationship between structure and performance.

    Histories of the development of seven national research systems—those of the United Kingdom, Germany, the United States, Japan, India, Brazil,...

  8. Chapter 5 The International Agricultural Research System
    (pp. 116-146)

    At the end of World War II, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations was established to perform the functions of a global ministry of food and agriculture.¹ The FAO headquarters were established in Rome. Its responsibilities included technical assistance to individual countries; support of agricultural education; collection of statistics on land use, food consumption, and agricultural production and trade; and publication of periodicals, bulletins, and yearbooks on the world food and agriculture situation.²

    The FAO has—through its technical assistance, educational, and regional networking activities—made significant contributions to the development of national research capacity in...

  9. Chapter 6 Reviewing Agricultural Research Programs
    (pp. 147-160)

    It has been repeatedly documented that agricultural research represents one of the more productive investments available to both developed and developing societies.¹ (See chapter 10.) In most countries, regardless of their stage of development or form of economic organization, a relatively high percentage of agricultural research is supported and carried out by public-sector agricultural research institutes and experiment stations. Indeed, the formation of the publicly supported agricultural research institute in Saxony in 1852 can be regarded as one of the great institutional innovations of the 19th century.

    Increasing attention has been devoted to the practice of establishing research priorities and...

  10. Chapter 7 Location and Scale in Agricultural Research
    (pp. 161-180)

    One hundred years ago there were few places in the world where grain yields were significantly higher than 1 metric ton per hectare.¹ Since that time, differences in output per hectare and output per worker in agriculture have widened. These differences have not been due to changes in physical resource endowments. They have been due primarily to advances in the technology of crop and animal production that have been products of institutional innovations that were only beginning to take shape a century ago—the agricultural experiment station and the research laboratory.

    Little formal knowledge about the economics of location and...

  11. Chapter 8 The Private Sector in Agricultural Research
    (pp. 181-214)

    The relative contributions and appropriate roles of public-and private-sector agricultural research have generated a great deal of discussion and some occasional controversy in recent years.¹ Yet, our knowledge about the contribution of the private sector to the advancement of agricultural science and technology is quite limited. This chapter focuses, somewhat narrowly, on private-sector agricultural research in the United States. Most of the issues discussed are, however, relevant to agricultural research policy in other developed countries and in many developing countries.

    The conventional view, shared by many public-and private-sector scientists and research administrators, is that there is substantial complementarity between public-sector...

  12. Chapter 9 Institutional and Project Funding of Research
    (pp. 215-236)

    In this chapter, I analyze the implications of two alternative research funding schemes.¹ The first, the institutional research support system, provides funds to support the research program of a particular research institution. The selection of the research program is developed by the administration and staff of the experiment station or research institute. The second, the project research grant system, provides support through project grants to individual scientists or research teams. The allocation of research effort typically is determined by the granting agency.

    Examples of institutional support for research are numerous. Institutional research was the traditional instrument employed to support federal...

  13. Chapter 10 The Economic Benefits from Agricultural Research
    (pp. 237-261)

    In earlier chapters there has been repeated reference to the contribution of research to productivity growth in agriculture.¹ It has been pointed out that the significance of technical change is that it permits the substitution of knowledge for resources or of inexpensive and abundant resources for scarce and expensive resources or that it releases the constraints on growth imposed by inelastic resource supplies.

    There can be little argument with such generalizations. But how much does agricultural research contribute to either productivity or output growth? Can the impact of research on productivity and output growth be measured? And can its impact...

  14. Chapter 11 Research Resource Allocation
    (pp. 262-297)

    Should research be planned? The answer to this question often depends on the interpretation that the respondent attaches to planning.¹ The response is frequently confounded by the respondent’s perception of the response to a second question: Who will have the authority for research planning? Researchers have often suggested, and with good reason, that the rates of return presented in table 10.3 place a major burden of proof on those who urge the use of more-formal planning methods to demonstrate that the resources devoted to planning will yield higher returns than the resources devoted to research.

    Nevertheless, central management and planning...

  15. Chapter 12 The Social Sciences in Agricultural Research
    (pp. 298-330)

    The social sciences have been junior partners in the agricultural research enterprise.¹ Relationships between the natural science-based disciplines and the social science-based disciplines in the past were characterized more by interdisciplinary aggression than by interdisciplinary collaboration. But much of the tension has evaporated in recent years.

    The past tensions stemmed from several sources. One was the emergence of fields such as agricultural economics and rural sociology later than fields such as agricultural chemistry and plant breeding. This lag resulted in a struggle to establish the legitimacy of the social science-based disciplines within colleges of agriculture, agricultural research institutes, and ministries...

  16. Chapter 13 Responsibility and Agricultural Research
    (pp. 331-354)

    The productivity of modern agriculture is the result of a remarkable fusion of technology and science.¹ In the West, this fusion was built on ideological foundations that, from the early Middle Ages, have valued both the improvement of material well-being and the advancement of knowledge.

    This fusion did not come easily. The advances in tillage equipment and cropping practices in Western Europe from the Middle Ages until well into the 19th century evolved entirely from husbandry practice and mechanical insight. “Science was traditionally aristocratic, speculative, intellectual in intent; technology was lower-class, empirical, action oriented.”² This cultural distinction persisted in the...

  17. Indexes
    (pp. 355-369)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 370-370)