Challenges for Agricultural Research

image of Challenges for Agricultural Research

As the world has changed during the past 50 years, so has agriculture. And so has agricultural research, which continues to confront new challenges, from food security to ecological concerns to land use issues. Indeed, as Guy Paillotin, the former president of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) has noted, agricultural research “has reached new heights in biology and is exploring other disciplines. It is forever changing, as are the needs of the society”.

The changing challenges faced by agricultural research were examined in depth at a conference organised by the OECD’s Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, together with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Agriculture. Participants came from all agricultural sectors and included farmers, industry, scientists and decision makers, as well as other stake holders.

This publication presents the twenty papers delivered at the conference. They highlight recent major progress in agricultural research outcomes and address the challenges that lie ahead.



Genetic Resources as the Building Blocks for Breeding: Current Status and Challenges

During the 20th century among plant and animal land species, the sources of genetic diversity have disappeared at an alarming rate for most domesticated species. Furthermore, no country is self-sufficient in this area. Geographical and intergenerational dependency on genetic resources for food and agriculture is very high and access to them continues to be a prerequisite for effective agricultural research and breeding. The OECD member countries are among the most dependent on genetic resources from abroad. International co-operation is therefore a must. The negotiation in FAO, and wide ratification of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) early this century, have been a significant achievement and a hope for the conservation, sustainable use, and continuous availability of these resources. However, a considerable effort is still needed, including making the ITGRFA fully operative in all countries and at all levels. In addition, many crops of the past which are neglected today, as well as many wild species, are expected to play a critical role in food, medicine and energy production in the near future.


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