CARDI Scientific Officer talks ‘agriculture research and development’ in Costa Rica

May 07, 2013:- In March, 2013, one of the Institute’s Scientific Officer attended a two-day training workshop on Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) for Central America and the Caribbean as part of the larger project: Tracking Agricultural R&D Investments and Capacities in Central America and the Caribbean, hosted in Costa Rica.

The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative, managed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), is one of the few sources of agricultural R&D statistics in developing countries. ASTI compiles analyses and publishes data on institutional developments, investments, and capacity trends in agricultural R&D in low- and middle-income countries worldwide. Data collection, analysis and dissemination are conducted through a network of national, regional, and international agricultural R&D agencies.

International Participants pay rapt attention during the Workshop Session

Over the next few months, ASTI, in close collaboration with CIAT, IICA, and national partners will conduct a new survey round in Central America and the Caribbean to fill the existing information gap on the size, scope, and structure of agricultural R&D in the region. In preparation for the launch of this new survey round, this implementation and training workshop aimed to familiarize national focal points with the ASTI program, its methodologies, survey tools, and data collection procedures.

At the Workshop, the national focal points were given the opportunity to deliver brief presentations on their respective national agricultural research systems. During the group discussions, current challenges and capacity gaps in terms of data collection and analysis were discussed, and additional data and analysis needs assessed, both at the national and regional level.

Workshop participants were trained in ASTI systems approaches and the use of the questionnaires to collect relevant data.

Norman Gibson, Scientific Officer with the Institute said of the Workshop, ‘it reinforced the key role that CARDI plays in the Region in leading research efforts and serving as a catalyst for change and a repository for agriculture information’. He concluded that ‘CARDI is needed, and we must always be ahead of the game, providing the sector with the answers to questions that are yet to be asked’.

Quantitative information is fundamental to understanding the contribution of agricultural R&D to agricultural growth. R&D indicators are essential to measuring, monitoring, and benchmarking the inputs, outputs, and performance of agricultural R&D systems. Stakeholders need to be able to identify trends in agricultural R&D investments and capacity, as well as gaps and neglected areas to set future investment priorities, and to better coordinate and harmonize research.

Basic information on the size and scope of agricultural R&D capacity and investments, the changing institutional structure and functioning of agricultural research agencies, and underlying science and technologies policies are largely unavailable or out of date for nearly all of the countries in Central America and the Caribbean (i.e., Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Suriname, and the smaller Caribbean countries). This project will fill this gap through institutional surveys of R&D agencies in these countries. It will conduct analysis on the financial and human capacities of agricultural R&D agencies, the changing institutional structure of R&D, and how science and technology policies influence R&D incentives and performance.

The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) program of the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) is the only international initiative dedicated specifically to the collection, analysis, and synthesis of information on agricultural R&D investment, capacity, and policy in developing countries.

ASTI provides both data trends—the progress of human and financial capacity in agricultural research over time—and data comparisons—the performance of a country or a region relative to another. Over the years, ASTI has established data portfolio and collection procedures that follow internationally accepted definitions and statistical procedures for compiling R&D statistics.

CARDI has been contracted by IFPRI to conduct this study in 10 CARICOM countries,

Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago .

The data generated from this exercise will be very useful to CARDI and its stakeholders as it will provide solid evidence upon which to plan and execute R&D investments in the agriculture sector.

This Project therefore affords CARDI the opportunity to use the results to strengthen its role as the premier regional Agriculture Research for Development (AR4D) organisation that initiates and influences policy dialogue in the sector.

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