Public agricultural R&D over the past half century: an emerging new world order

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Abstract

Recent trends in farm productivity and food prices raise concerns about whether the era of global agricultural abundance is over. Agricultural R&D is a crucial determinant of agricultural productivity and production, and therefore food prices and poverty. In this article, we present entirely new evidence on investments in public agricultural R&D worldwide as an indicator of the prospects for agricultural productivity growth over the coming decades. The agricultural R&D world is changing, and in ways that will definitely affect future global patterns of poverty, hunger, and other outcomes. The overall picture is one in which the middle-income countries are growing in relative importance as producers of agricultural innovations through investments in R&D, and have consequently better prospects as producers of agricultural products.

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