During the past 30 years, the structure of Colombian agricultural research has evolved from one depending almost entirely on a single national agricultural research institute to one that is much more diverse. Colombia’s public agricultural R&D agencies underwent a major reform in 1993 with the creation of CORPOICA—a joint venture arrangement between the government and various not-for-profit, often industry supported research agencies. CORPOICA assumed the personnel and research infrastructure of ICA, the principal government agricultural R&D agency hitherto (and itself founded in 1962). Staff were no longer public employees, but hired on a contract basis, thereby freeing research salary structures from public service strictures and freeing management’s hand to manage it’s staff. However, a series of national government budget crises during the 1990s stymied efforts to raise scientists salaries, CORPOICA’s overall funding has fluctuated around a stagnant total, and in inflation adjusted terms spending per scientist has slipped.
A distinctive feature of agricultural R&D in Colombia is the significant roles played by the nonprofit sector in both conducting and funding research with funds often raised by commodity levies. In 1996, we surveyed 11 such agencies that collectively accounted for 24 percent of total agricultural R&D spending in that year.