A parallel session on capacity development took a hard look at research investment trends and returns in order to identify the challenges in capacity building in agriculture for the future.
Dr. Nienke Beintema of ASTIA said that different countries have different financial and human capacities in public agricultural R&D. Additional investments are urgently needed for human capacity building at universities and R&D agencies to redress the declining researcher capacity, resulting from aging and brain drain.
A presentation by Dr. Philip G. Pardey of the University of Minnesota provided evidence that research lags are much longer than originally thought; for example, early work on hybrid corn started in the 1870’s, but the first commercial release came out in 1933. He also pointed to the mobility of agriculture as a “moving target” that must be taken into account when thinking about technology targeting and implied agricultural R&D investment choices.
“We are paying the productivity consequences of several decades of slowing growth in productivity oriented agricultural R&D,” Pardey said.