Science for Agricultural
Development: Changing contexts and new
The miracle of the past four decades is that today's farmers
are feeding almost twice as many people with better quality food
from virtually the same land base, according to a new publication
from the Science Council of the CGIAR.
Science For Agricultural Development is the first of a
biennial series that tackles current scientific questions, ranging
from research and development to scientific opportunities in the
context of a changing global environment.
Dr. Lisa Sennerby-Forsse (right) Science Council member, and Dr.
Per Pinstrup-Andersen, Chair of the CGIAR Science Council, launch
Science for Agricultural Development.
The potential beneficial impacts of emerging scientific
opportunities including genomics (the science which provides
information on the function and location of genes),
nanotechnologies that involve manipulating matter at the nanometer
scale or molecular and atomic levels, and bioinformatics and
e-agriculture are highlighted. In particular, the report outlines
how agricultural biotechnologies can improve the efficiency of
In fact, genomics research has been able to unravel the genome
of Oryza sativa japonica through the International Rice
Genomic Sequencing Project led by Japan. This would mean improving
future rice breeding programs and genetic engineering to meet the
demand of some 4.6 billion people by 2025.
One of the other subjects discussed in the report is climate
change, a major threat to the global environment, and projected
changes in climate will have both beneficial and adverse effects on
water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems and human health.
Unknown risks and limited flexibility caused by changes in climate
might affect food production in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South
Asia and Latin America. Sustainable land use for agriculture and
forestry can however contribute to reduce human impact on the
The publication also states that innovative partnerships and new
funding for agricultural research and development must be
strengthened to take advantage of these scientific opportunities
for agricultural development. The good news is that in the past
five years, worldwide investment by public agencies and private
firms in all sciences rose by a third, to reach US$ 725
Furthermore, public investments in agricultural research alone
increased by 51 percent; from an estimated $15.2 billion in 1981 to
$23 billion in 2000. The downside is that investment among the
regions is uneven. In 2000, France, Germany, Japan and the United
States accounted for two-thirds of public agricultural research
investments among developed countries, while Brazil, China, India
and South Africa accounted for more that a quarter of all public
agricultural research investments by developing countries.
the presentation, click here.
To read the report, click here.