Support for international agricultural research: current status and future challenges.
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The success of the first Green Revolution in the form of abundant food supplies and low prices over the past two decades has diverted the world's attention from agriculture to other pressing issues. This has resulted in lower support for the agricultural research work primarily undertaken by the 15 research centers of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The total support in real dollars for most of the last three decades has been more or less flat although the number of centers increased from 4 to 15. However, since 2000, the funding situation has improved for the CGIAR centers, with almost all the increase coming from grants earmarked for specific research projects. Even for some centers such as the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), the downward trend continued as late as 2006 with the budget in real dollars reaching the 1978 level of support.The recent food crisis has renewed the call for a second Green Revolution by revitalizing yield growth to feed the world in the face of growing population and a shrinking land base for agricultural use. The slowdown in yield growth because of decades of neglect in agricultural research and infrastructure development has been identified as the underlying reason for the recent food crisis. For the second Green Revolution to be successful, the CGIAR centers will have to play a complex role by expanding productivity in a sustainable manner with fewer resources. Thus, it is crucial to examine the current structure of support for the CGIAR centers and identify the challenges ahead in terms of source and end use of funds for the success of the second Green Revolution. The objective of this paper is to provide a historical perspective on the support to the CGIAR centers and to examine the current status of funding, in particular, the role of project-specific grants in rebuilding capacity of these centers. The paper will also discuss the nature of the support (unrestricted vs. project-specific grants) that will be needed for a much-desired second Green Revolution.
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