Technological Innovation in Agriculture: The Political Economy of Its Rate and Bias
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Permanent link to cite or share this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10947/1487
An examination of how non-market, institutional forces impinge upon market forces in determining relative prices and levels of investment in agricultural technology, and how they affect the rate and bias of technological change in agriculture. The paper explores the causes of underinvestment and variability of investment in agricultural research, and in relation to commodities, the bias for research on exportable, industrial, and urban-consumed crops and against food and subsistence crops. While the expansion of international agricultural research under the aegis of the CGIAR addressed this later bias, the authors found its research to be more effective in confronting problems of global food supply than in dealing with the problems of resource-poor producers. The proliferation of agricultural research institutions, both public and private, and the complementarities between them implied the need for greater research coordination, as well as greater involvement and participation by the users and beneficiaries of research products. The authors saw the need for greater coordination between economic policy and technology policy in guarding agricultural profits and incentives against the downward pressure of increased productivity on prices. Assuring that powerful groups would not unduly dominate the course of technology development required greater collaboration between natural and social scientists in setting research priorities. The paper concludes by suggesting the implications of these findings for CGIAR Centers, and their relationships with the national agricultural research systems on which they rely for signals of research demand. The first of the series CGIAR Study Papers, which together formed the CGIAR impact study of the 1980s. it was written by Alain de Janvry of the University of California at Berkeley, and Jean-Jacques Dethier of the World Bank.
- CGIAR Study Paper