In 2008, IFPRI conducted a unique impact assessment on behalf of the CGIAR, which calculated the effect of doubling public spending on agricultural research and development in developing countries. Researchers found that this doubling of investments (including a doubling of CGIAR investments) could sustainably reduce poverty for 280 million people by 2020.
The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) program is a great example of work being done to emphasize and support agricultural research and development (R&D). Effective research and development requires quantitative information about agricultural science and technology, and measuring and monitoring the performance and results of these science-and-technology systems requires indicators derived from data. The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators program, which is the most comprehensive source of agricultural R&D statistics worldwide, focuses on low- and middle-income countries. In 2008–09, the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators program released a new set of R&D capacity and investment indicators for the Latin America and Caribbean region and a set of gender-disaggregated capacity indicators for Sub-Saharan Africa. The program also launched a streamlined new website, which contains, among other resources, an interactive data mapping tool. The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators program also initiated a new survey round in Sub-Saharan Africa to assess the structure, financing, and capacity of agricultural R&D in the region.
Also at the forefront of agricultural development technology is the Program for Biosafety Systems, a partnership program for biosafety capacity development managed by IFPRI. As genetically modified crops are increasingly grown worldwide, the work of the Program for Biosafety Systems—supporting the development of fully functional biosafety regulatory systems, facilitating the scientific review of genetically modified products, and assessing associated international biosafety policies—grows stronger and more relevant. The Program’s goal is empowering partner countries to reap the benefits of emerging genetically modified products while ensuring consumer safety and environmental health. The Program’s recent research has greatly contributed to this goal, and has also helped to inform the international debate on the social, economic, and trade implications of genetically modified agricultural products. In the past year, the Program for Biosafety Systems and organizations in partner countries achieved important milestones, including the adoption of a biosafety law in Kenya, the approval of confined field trials for genetically modified cassava and cotton in Uganda, and the creation of a national biotechnology and biosafety policy in Malawi.
Other focal areas under the Science and Technology theme include: