Agricultural R&D accomplished a great deal in the 20th century, especially during the past 50 years. The resulting innovations have reduced poverty and improved the food security of the poor by helping to make food much more abundant and cheaper and reducing the vulnerability of the poor to food price shocks. Slower agricultural productivity growth, combined with a continuing rise in population and per capita incomes, plus the added demand from biofuels, portends a reversal of the past trend of increasing food abundance, and a corresponding increase in vulnerability of a greater number of poor to price variability and its causes. Enhanced growth in funding for public agricultural R&D in rich and poor countries alike is justified by continuing high rates of return and would also help enhance a restoration of farm productivity growth rates with salutary effects on food security of the poor over the coming decades.
- agricultural R&D