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Context - Role of Agricultural Research and Development in the Developing World

Agriculture in the developing world faces unprecedented challenges. Rising and volatile food prices, coupled with increasing pressure on natural resources, have emerged as severe threats to the world’s poor and hungry. Climate change and variability will exacerbate these threats in the coming decades. At the same time, rapid advances in science and technology, combined with a better understanding of small-scale producers’ needs, offer unprecedented opportunities

There is growing recognition among governments and donors that agriculture must be a prominent part of the development agenda. It is important for delivering growth in agriculture-based countries, for reducing rural poverty and addressing the environmental agenda. Agricultural productivity growth is vital for stimulating growth in other parts of the economy. Accelerated growth will require a sharp productivity increase in smallholder farming and more effective support to the millions of subsistence farmers, many of them in remote areas.

Science and technology solutions are critical to meeting growing demand for food, maintaining market competitiveness and adapting to and mitigating climate change. Agricultural research helps generate new technologies and improved policies--key drivers of growth in agricultural productivity and resilience. This involves promoting, strengthening and reforming Africa’s agricultural research, technology dissemination and adoption efforts. Currently, chronic shortcomings affect many of the continent’s agricultural research and extension systems. Institutional issues such as capacity weaknesses, insufficient end user and private sector involvement. There is also a lack of coordination between different research institutions and between research and extension.