Although the population of India grew by 424 million people between 1963 and 1993, the severe food crises of the early 1960s have given way to food surpluses in the 1990s. And over the years, India has developed one of the largest agricultural research systems in the world. Investments in agricultural research and extension accounted for nearly three-fourths of this growth in productivity. Much of this growth was the result of the new technology that was disseminated throughout India during the Green Revolution. In recent years, however, the idea that the returns to agricultural research may be declining has received some currency. At a time when economic liberalization and budget constraints are key concerns, policymakers wonder how much public investment in agricultural research is appropriate. Are the returns to agricultural research still high in India? Should the private sector play a larger role in agricultural research?
Agricultural Research and Productivity Growth in India, Research Report 109, by Robert E. Evenson, Carl E. Pray, and Mark W. Rosegrant, addresses these questions by assessing the effects that public and private investment in agricultural research, extension, and irrigation have had on the growth of total factor productivity (TFP), which is the growth in total outputs minus the growth in total inputs. In the growth accounting approach used in this report, detailed accounts of inputs and outputs are aggregated into input and output indexes, which in turn are used to compute a TFP index.