Knowledge for Development

Returns to Food and Agricultural R&D Investments Worldwide, 1958-2011


Date: 17/12/2013


Researchers with InSTePP (International Science & Technology Practice & Policy) at the University of Minnesota have compiled a comprehensive database of rate of return (RR) estimates from the worldwide literature on food and agricultural R&D. They found that the wide dispersion in the reported RR makes it difficult to discern meaningful patterns in the evidence. Nonetheless, RR values based on the internal rate of return (IRR) were high regardless of the type of research, commodity focus, performer, or time period of the research. The authors question whether this IRR evidence should be taken at face value: they show that high IRR values and their implausible implications are the result flawed assumptions used in calculations. They suggest alternatives that utilise more appropriate assumptions and yield more sensible implications.   

(HarvestChoice, 10/2013)

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