The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s paper on The Benefits from Agricultural Research and Development, Innovation, and Productivity Growth (2010) reviewed studies that measured agricultural research and development (R&D) in terms of productivity, innovation and social benefit. While the paper was a bit technical, it does articulate the need to look at the hard science to evaluate our efforts' effectiveness. The review supports other findings that suggest there is a very high rate of return to agricultural R&D. It also states that despite clear benefits, the world as a whole has underinvested in agricultural R&D.
Investment in agricultural R&D could make a significant contribution to increasing agricultural productivity at a time when demand for agricultural products is growing at alarming rates. In addition, research and new technologies will be required to address emerging challenges, such as increasing weather variability, adaptation to climate change, water scarcity, limited arable land, and increased price volatility in global markets.
In 2000, the world spent 39.5 billion dollars on agricultural R&D. Approximately 41 percent of this came from private investors, with the vast majority located in industrialized countries (96 percent).
China and India accounted for 89 percent of the increase in regional spending from 1995 to 2000. Although geographically large and home to more than 10 percent of the world's population, Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for just 0.5 percent of the world's gross investment in science. Moreover, the share of the bottom 80 countries slipped from 0.29 percent of the global total in 1995 to 0.26 percent in 2000.
These statistics show the growing gap of R&D investments in industrialized and developing countries. Given the interconnectedness of and dependency upon global supply chains, the benefits of R&D across all regions would prove beneficial throughout the global cotton supply chain.
But research alone will not create the change that is necessary. We need to test the research in the field and then bring the successful advancements to scale, focusing on developing countries where population growth will be greatest and where farmers are not yet optimizing efficiencies and production. Supporting elements such as finance, marketing and training will also be needed. Successful programs to bolster agriculture R&D will require coordinated efforts under agreed upon frameworks. Here are just a few organizations that facilitate or support agricultural research in developing countries:
CIRAD (Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement) is a French research centre working with developing countries to tackle international agricultural and development issues. CIRAD is a targeted research organization, and bases its operations on development needs, from the field to the laboratory and from a local to a global scale.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty.
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) is a global partnership that unites organizations engaged in research for sustainable development with the funders of this work.
Questions to consider
How could the global cotton industry support research to benefit the targeted beneficiaries and the wider industry?
Are the above-mentioned organizations potential partners for the cotton industry?
 Culled from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agricultural_Science_and_Technology_Indicators on July 13, 2011.
 Pardey, P., Beintema, N., Dehmer, S., Wood, S. Agricultural Research: A Growing Global Divide? August 2006.