Agricultural Research in an Era of Adjustment
Publication date: April 1995
In most developing countries, agriculture is a major source of incomes, employment, and export earnings. National governments, often supported by donors, have made considerable efforts to develop this sector. The economic environment for agricultural development has changed considerably in the past two decades. Economy-wide policy reforms, known more commonly as structural adjustment programs, have been launched by many developing economies struggling to overcome the economic instability arising from commodity price shocks, domestic economic mismanagement, and diminishing access to international capital flows. Such programs have had profound effects on the operation and performance of public sector institutions, including agricultural research systems. Most adjustment programs alter production incentives, investment levels, public sector outlays, management of public sector institutions, and private demand for new technologies. Implemented together with agricultural adjustment programs to improve the sectoral policy framework and with investment projects to strengthen rural infrastructure and institutions, structural adjustment programs have emerged as a principal tool in resetting the course of agriculture. Research institutions themselves must adjust to the changing policy environment. But this may take time, and such adjustments are not without cost. The results show that, in the case of agricultural research, structural adjustment and institutional development are by no means mutually exclusive objectives. By capitalizing on the lessons of past experience, developing countries should be able to ensure that future structural adjustment will strengthen rather than constrain the national agricultural research effort. To bring about such developments, policymakers will need to be more sensitive to the possible effects of adjustment on technological capacity. Conversely, research leaders will need to take a more active role in contributing to decisionmaking on economic policy reform. It is hoped that this book will contribute to the necessary dialogue on this topic.
Publisher: World Bank