Private Sector Capacity Building in Agricultural R&D

Dr. F H Ansarey:Agricultural research and development in Bangladesh have been mostly led by public institutions. The success of these institutions, especially in variety development, plant and animal breeding, and biotechnological interventions, is remarkable. For example, both biotic and abiotic stress-tolerant crop varieties are developed which can perform better against diseases, heat, drought, and salinity.

The dramatic changes in agricultural production and productivity are a direct result of yield-centric R&D efforts coupled with technology transfer and extension services. However, the global trend in agriculture shows a shift from public sector to private sector for R&D. Mentionable that global private spending on agricultural R&D (excluding R&D by food industries) has tripled in 25 years since 1990. Besides, the traditional top-spenders in this sector used to belong to high-income countries like the USA. Now, countries like China, India, and Brazil are emerging in agricultural R&D.

In Bangladesh, private sector R&D has contributed to the development of crops, animal breeding (i.e poultry and cattle) and other sub-sectors. For example, ACI’s Advance Seed Research and Biotech Centre (ASRBC) has been working on rice, wheat, potato, tomato, and vegetables. ASRBC is also equipped with state-of-the-art Molecular Breeding Lab, Pathology Lab and Tissue Culture Lab. On the other hand, ACI Animal Genetics Research and Development Centre maintains high-quality, improved bull and produces demand-driven quality frozen semen for cattle breed development in this country. Capacity development for private-sector R&D is required further as our country is experiencing environmental volatility due to climate change. Additionally, transformation of agricultural production system is going on.

Global top agricultural R&D firms work targeting large markets. Hence local requirements can be often overlooked. Moreover, we need to pay royalty as well as undertake certain business commitments to introduce new agricultural technologies and products from global firms. If we can strengthen private-sector R&D in our country, we can reduce the cost as well as the barriers for faster adoption of agricultural innovations. Increased productivity of the farmers can be also ensured by meeting local requirements on a priority basis. Thus we can create more wealth for our farmers and country’s economy.

Writer:Managing Director & CEO, ACI Agribusiness