European Journal of Plant Pathology

, Volume 115, Issue 1, pp 75–93 | Cite as

Establishing Priorities for Plant Science Research and Developing World Food Security

  • Robert W. Herdt


This paper begins with a broad review of food security in the developing world. I argue that technological change has made a key contribution to improving food security wherever it has been achieved and that plant sciences can contribute in the future. Potential contributions by plant scientists will have to be funded through development assistance. A perspective on development assistance and the role of assistance to agricultural research in particular provides a useful background to the consideration of how to set priorities for research using information on what is needed and what can be done. Optimizing the contributions of research entails five steps: (1) determine the specific objective, (2) identify alternatives to address the objective, (3) choose a method by which to set priorities, (4) apply the selected method to quantify priorities, (5) allocate available funds among the priority alternatives. Finally, it is important to take a long-term view and continue supporting the research long enough to make a difference. The paper discusses these steps, illustrates how such an approach might be applied and demonstrates the importance of applying economic criteria to research resource allocation.


congruence crop loss development assistance hunger research priorities technological change 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adams, DWGraham, DHPischke, JDV eds. 1984Undermining Rural Development with Cheap CreditWestview PressBoulder, COGoogle Scholar
  2. Alston JM, Chang-Kang C, Marra MC, Pardey PG and Wyatt T (2000) A Meta-Analysis of Rates of Return to Agricultural R&D: Ex-Pede Herculem? International Food Policy Research Institute, 113, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  3. Alston, JM, Norton, GW, Pardey, PG 1995Science Under Scarcity: Principles and Practices for Agricultural Research Evaluation and Priority SettingCornell University PressIthaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  4. Dalrymple DG (2005) Setting the agenda for science and technology in the public sector: The case of international agricultural research. Science and Public Policy, forthcomingGoogle Scholar
  5. Eicher, C, Staatz, J 1998International Agricultural DevelopmentThe Johns Hopkins University PressBaltimore and LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Evenson, REGollin, D eds. 2003Crop Variety Improvement and its Effect on ProductivityCABI PublishingWallingford, United KingdomGoogle Scholar
  7. Fan S, Hazell P and Thorat S (1999) Linkages Between Government Spending, Growth, and Poverty in India. International Food Policy Research Institute, 110, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  8. Fan S, Zhang L and Zhang X (2002) Growth, Inequality, and Poverty in Rural China. International Food Policy Research Institute, 125, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  9. FAO (1967) Background Papers for the Symposium on Crop Losses. FAO Symposium on Crop Losses. Rome. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsGoogle Scholar
  10. FAO (2002) World Agriculture: Toward 2015/2030. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Rome, ItalyGoogle Scholar
  11. FAO (2005a) Compendium of Agriculture – Environmental Indicators (1989–1991 to 2000). Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations Google Scholar
  12. FAO (2005b) International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United NationsGoogle Scholar
  13. Fogel RW (2004) The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death 1700–2100: Europe. America and the Third World. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  14. Hayami, Y 2001Development Economics: From the Poverty to the Wealth of NationsOxford University PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  15. Hayami, Y, Ruttan, V 1985Agricultural Development: An International PerspectiveThe Johns Hopkins University PressBaltimore and LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Herdt, RW 1991Research priorities for rice biotechnologyKhush, GToenniessen, G eds. Rice BiotechnologyCAB InternationalWallingford, UKGoogle Scholar
  17. Herdt, RW, Mellor, JW 1964The contrasting response of rice to nitrogen: India and the United StatesJournal of Farm Economics46150160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Johnson, DG 2000Population, food and knowledgeAmerican Economic Review90621Google Scholar
  19. Kumar K (1987) AID’s experience with integrated rural development projects. USAID Program Evaluation Report No. 19, July 1987, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  20. Mellor, JW 1966The Economics of Agricultural DevelopmentCornell University PressIthaca, NYGoogle Scholar
  21. Meyer, RL, Nagarajan, G 1996Evaluating credit guarantee programs in developing countries. Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Working Paper 2322 Ohio State UniversityColumbus, OhioGoogle Scholar
  22. Mills B (ed.) (1998) Agricultural Research Priorities: Information Investments for the Improved use of Research Resources. International Service for National Agricultural Research, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  23. Norton GW and Pardey PG (1987) Priority-setting Mechanisms for National Agricultural Research Systems: Present Experience and Future Needs. International Service for National Agricultural Research, 7, The HagueGoogle Scholar
  24. OECD Development Assistance Committee (2005) International Development Statistics on-line; CRS online database in aid activities. Organization for Economic Cooperation and DevelopmentGoogle Scholar
  25. Oerke, E-C, Dehne, H-W, Schonbeck, F, Weber, A 1994Crop Production and Crop Protection: Estimated Losses in Major Food and Cash CropsElsevierAmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  26. Pitman, GK 2002Bridging Troubled Waters: Assessing the World Bank Water Resources StrategyThe World Bank, OEDWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Rosegrant, MW, Evenson, RE 1992Agricultural productivity and sources of growth in South AsiaAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics74757761Google Scholar
  28. Sachs, JD 2005The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our TimeThe Penguin PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Schultz, TW 1964Transforming Traditional Agriculture Yale University PressNew HavenGoogle Scholar
  30. Sorho, F, Pinel, A, Traore, O, Bersoult, A, Ghesqiere, A, Hebrard, E, Konate, G, Sere, T, Fargette, D 2005Durability of natural and transgenic resistances in rice to Rice yellow mottle virusEuropean Journal of Plant Pathology112349359CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Steinberg, DI, Clapp-Wincek, C, Turner, AG 1983Irrigation and AID’s Experience: A consideration based on evaluationsUSAIDWashington, DCGoogle Scholar
  32. Teng PS and Krupa SV (1980). Assessment of crop losses which constrain production and crop improvement in agriculture and forestry. In: Teng PS and Krupa SV (eds.) E. C. Stakman Commemorative Symposium. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota (pp. 327) Department of Plant Pathology, University of MinnesotaGoogle Scholar
  33. World Bank Operations Evaluation Department (1993) Annual Review of Evaluation Results 1992. The World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. World Bank Operations Evaluation Department (1995) The World Bank and Irrigation. The World Bank, 14908, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adjunct International Professor of Applied Economics and ManagementCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations