Appendix G
USAID Agricultural and Natural Resources Management Research Priorities Desktop Review1

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report gives a partial overview of current thinking by key donors, universities, and research organizations on development and research priorities in agricultural and natural resources management. It is intended to assist USAID in identifying the priority topics that would warrant Agency support in order to achieve the greatest impact on smallholder-oriented agricultural growth and rural development. There is an emerging consensus within the donor community that research on agricultural and natural resources management problems should play a key role in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). For example, last year’s June 2004 G8 Action Plan “recognizes the essential contribution of agricultural research to the MDGs, and calls on its members to develop agricultural science and technology, in order to raise agricultural productivity, particularly in Africa.” This broad agreement about means and ends does not translate easily into prescriptions for funding the “best,” the most productive, or the most profitable agricultural or NRM activities, particularly with respect to research. There are a wide range of potential research directions to investigate, depending upon site-specific conditions, as well as the quality of national levels of education and connectivity, appropriateness of enabling policies, the strength of supporting financial, entrepreneurial, and physical infrastructure, the relative degree of institutional strength, and donors’ funding and programmatic priorities.

1  

International Resources Group. Agriculture and Natural Resources Management Research Priorities Desktop Review, Washington, DC, July 2005.



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The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the U.S. Agency for International Development Appendix G USAID Agricultural and Natural Resources Management Research Priorities Desktop Review1 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This report gives a partial overview of current thinking by key donors, universities, and research organizations on development and research priorities in agricultural and natural resources management. It is intended to assist USAID in identifying the priority topics that would warrant Agency support in order to achieve the greatest impact on smallholder-oriented agricultural growth and rural development. There is an emerging consensus within the donor community that research on agricultural and natural resources management problems should play a key role in helping to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). For example, last year’s June 2004 G8 Action Plan “recognizes the essential contribution of agricultural research to the MDGs, and calls on its members to develop agricultural science and technology, in order to raise agricultural productivity, particularly in Africa.” This broad agreement about means and ends does not translate easily into prescriptions for funding the “best,” the most productive, or the most profitable agricultural or NRM activities, particularly with respect to research. There are a wide range of potential research directions to investigate, depending upon site-specific conditions, as well as the quality of national levels of education and connectivity, appropriateness of enabling policies, the strength of supporting financial, entrepreneurial, and physical infrastructure, the relative degree of institutional strength, and donors’ funding and programmatic priorities. 1   International Resources Group. Agriculture and Natural Resources Management Research Priorities Desktop Review, Washington, DC, July 2005.

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The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the U.S. Agency for International Development Global research themes were identified and organized by development-oriented criteria, resulting in four broad categories: Macro policies that enable growth to take place; Technologies that provide new growth opportunities; Policies, institutions, and technologies that sustain the natural resource base; Policies and institutions that enable economic growth and natural resources management to be pro-poor. Efforts are needed in all of these four areas to achieve sustainable results. These broad areas were then addressed differently within regions, and it was only within the regional context that prioritization of narrower research objectives was generally presented, as follows: In Asia, water use and on-farm water management, income diversification through high-value commodities, productivity of staple foods in less-favored areas, and natural resources management were most frequently addressed. In Latin America and the Caribbean, access to markets by the poor, land and property rights and access to rural finance, and natural resources management were key topics. In Central and West Asia and North Africa, water use and on-farm water management, crop improvements both for staple commodities and high value crops, income diversification, and access to infrastructure and services, as well as natural resources management were emphasized. In Sub-Saharan Africa, greater priority was placed on markets (including access for the poor and links to regional and international markets), water and soil technologies and practices, and crop and animal systems technologies. The main research areas that emerged as recommended opportunities are: Human and institutional capacity-building Policies and institutions that help to create pro-growth environments Resource access and broadened participation New tools (including biotechnology) for genetic enhancement to solve the most difficult plant and animal problems of biotic and abiotic stress and of food quality Soil and water use and management Staple food crops and livestock in less-favored areas, supported by effective soil and water use and on-farm management of these resources, together with market development. Income diversification through High-Valued Commodities (HVC) to in-

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The Fundamental Role of Science and Technology in International Development: An Imperative for the U.S. Agency for International Development clude fish and livestock, relevant soil/water use/on-farm management, food quality and safety, with value chains influencing respective markets. These areas are not presented in a rank order. As a group, the listed topics have been considered for portfolio balance. They are listed individually to emphasize the importance of each topic, but several would often, if not usually be implemented as integrated research packages to enhance likelihood of adoption and broad impact, nearly always through partnership organizations. The specific topics within these broad categories would be differently arrayed in each region. The team sees research in all seven areas as essential to building a research portfolio with the ultimate goal of contributing to sustainable development that enhances agricultural productivity while also sustaining the natural resource base.

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