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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.

English

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Science-Based Policy Issues to Enable Sustainability on the Ground

Using improved maize seed and appropriate mineral fertilisers in the 80 Millennium Villages, which comprise approximately 400 000 people in ten countries of sub-Saharan Africa, has drastically increased production of staple food crops, transforming food deficits into crop surpluses. Maize yields more than doubled at the village scale, from 1.7 to 4.1 tons ha..1. In Malawi, because of a smart input subsidy programme implemented by the government, maize harvests have greatly surpassed those of previous years, turning that country from a recipient of food aid into a food exporter and food aid donor to neighbouring countries. Other countries are beginning to implement similar efforts. They will require novel financial mechanisms, but the way forward is clear.

English

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