Knowledge for Development

The future of agricultural research for development

Author: Dr Jean-Luc Khafaoui, CIRAD, France

Date: 19/05/2010


Over the past few years the context of agricultural research for development and, more generally, of international agricultural research has rapidly been evolving. For example, the role of agriculture in development processes in southern countries has acquired new recognition, evident in the World Development Report 2008; global problems, such as climate change, food safety and new diseases have moved to the top of the international policy agenda; and research topics tend to transcend the traditional North-South divide due to new models of research cooperation and research questions that concern both southern and northern countries.


This has resulted in a convergence of agricultural research for developing and developed countries, in particular in Europe. Consequently, there is renewed appreciation for the way agricultural research enhances economic development in southern countries and responds to global challenges.

This recognition has been reinforced by the handling of the consequences of the global crisis on food prices in 2008, which gave birth to a French initiative,now in the hands of the FAO, called the ‘Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security‘(GPAFS).
As a result, the challenges of sustainable development and agricultural research (in its broadest sense) have re-appeared on the agendas of international decision makers, such as G8 and EU leaders. The last demonstration of this political commitment has been the Declaration of the G8 in L’Aquila (Italy, July 2009), which explicitly stated support for international agricultural research as one of the G8’s policy priorities. This development coincides with growing multilateral support for international agricultural research.

In this context, the international agricultural research community is facing a direct challenge. This community is now being forced to consider new global and regional research agendas that bring together research carried out by the international agronomic research centres of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and research institutes in both northern and southern countries. The results of their deliberations will be presented in March 2010 at the Global Conference on
Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD) Montpellier, which will be attended by researchers and representatives of civil society and the private sector alike.