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Paradigm shift: Towards an evergreen revolution
Investment in agriculture, agricultural sciences, and research and technology development
Pro-poor science development and technology transfer: science with a human face
Science-led agricultural diversification
Building bridges for science: strategic partnerships and regulatory framework
Globalization and liberalization: the role of science
Linking science, nutrition, and development

Expansions in science and technology have marked the onset of the Third Millennium. If harnessed rationally and effectively, these could help eradicate hunger, poverty, destitution and indignity. The progress in the fields of biotechnology, information and communication technology, medicine, space science and management science offers unprecedented opportunity for multifaceted development. The industrialized countries and a few developing countries (in some of the areas) are vigorously capturing these uncommon opportunities by innovating, adapting and regulating these technologies. But the majority of the developing countries are far behind and are further falling behind, thus widening the technology divide. Based on indicators of technology creation, diffusion of recent innovations, diffusion of old innovations and human skills, UNDP had the calculated technology achievement index (TAI) of 72 countries. Although somewhat flawed as it generally ignores the vast contributions of public sectors, which are mostly not under IPR, the index shows that Finland with a TAI of 0.744 was first, closely followed by the USA with a TAI of 0.733. Japan was fourth. Table 30 gives TAI of countries of the Asia-Pacific region (for which data were available). It may be seen from the table that of the 15 countries (including Hong Kong and Singapore), five were listed as "Leaders", two as "Potential Leaders", six as "Dynamic Adopters" and two as "Marginalized". A good number of the countries are in the "Marginalized" category. In order to bridge the technology gap, effective policies and programmes are needed in the countries with lower TAI.

Table 30: Technology achievement index (TAI): selected Asia-Pacific countries


TAI value

TAI Rank out of 72





Korea Rep. of









New Zealand



Potential Leaders

Hong Kong, China (SAR)






Dynamic Adopters













Sri Lanka













Source: Human Development Report, UNDP 2001
For the agriculture sector, as seen from the preceding section, science and technology offer tremendous opportunities for enhanced and sustainable production, environmental protection and income enhancement - leading to comprehensive food security and overall prosperity. But, in order to be effective in its service to the humankind, science and technology development must be guided in such a way that it meets the needs and aspirations of the people identified through participatory approaches. An appropriate "environment" must be provided to realize the full potentials of new scientific developments by formulating and implementing suitable policies and strategies.

From the foregoing analyses it emerges that the most pressing need of the Asia-Pacific region is the alleviation of hunger and poverty through enhanced and sustained production, equitable distribution, and environmental protection. Science and technology must specifically address the needs and prospects of majority small and resource-poor farmers of the region and help mainstream the gender concerns. Institutional, human resource and policy supports must capture the positive effects and minimize the negative effects of globalization and liberalization and revolutions in biotechnology and information and communication technologies. Only a meaningful interaction between science and policy can bring the much-needed congruence among productivity, sustainability, profitability and equity. Thus, it is not only biological and physical sciences, but also economics and social sciences, which must all interact dynamically to yield wholesome results.

Science has many roles including (i) to generate knowledge and make it accessible to all, (ii) identify issues - such as the causes and consequences of hunger, food insecurity and poverty, (iii) find facts to help resolve conflicts, and (iv) provide technical, physical and social solutions to problems and new options for human well-being. In the first stages of the fight against hunger, and especially in creating the green revolution, science has been used mainly in role (iv). It is now time to realize the other roles that science must play to aid the world and to transform the Green Revolution into an Ever-green Revolution.

Paradigm shift: Towards an evergreen revolution

The Green Revolution was a science-led process. Science and technology development must continue to spearhead the productivity-enhancement process - since intensification through increased yield per unit land area, water, labour, and capital is the only recourse for achieving the production targets. But based on the assets and liabilities of the Green Revolution process, which is now waning, the way ahead must follow a different path which should lead towards an Evergreen Revolution. This calls for major paradigm shifts in R & D systems.

The first paradigm shift relates to a shift in research approach from a single commodity based and monodisciplinary to a farming system based and multidisciplinary. The second shift demands a change from a top-down (training and visit system) extension approach to a participatory (effective research-extension-farmer-market interface) approach of technology assessment, refinement and transfer. The third shift seeks the integration of molecular biology, bio-technology and bio-information with conventional technology for speedy and more precise gains. The fourth shift seeks greater congruence between productivity and sustainability and creation of enabling mechanisms for adoption of new technologies. Cost-effectiveness of production, quality and safety in food and other products, and GMO biosafety and biosecurity, will assume high significance in the globalized and liberalized world.

Generation of need-based technologies, their effective assessment and innovative diffusion involving system approach and participatory processes are important means to improve agriculture productivity. Integrated pest management, integrated soil-water-irrigation-nutrient management, and post-harvest and value-addition management should be aggressively promoted to attain desired yield, quality and sustainability levels. Besides, efforts must be in place to defend the gains already made and to make new gains - particularly through the synergism of gene revolution, informatics revolution, management revolution and eco-technology. Decision support systems based on the principles of ecology, economics, equity and employment should be developed for realizing the Evergreen Revolution (Swaminathan, 1999).

Greening the technologies is a pre-requisite for realizing the Evergreen Revolution. Further, it must be rooted in traditional wisdom and rendered increasingly relevant and efficient through blending with modern and dynamic knowledge and processes. Knowledge, old and new, is always a treasure. Generations after generations, farmers and other people have generated new knowledge to cope with their surroundings and environment. Converted into technologies, these are particularly valuable for ecological and social sustainability. On the other hand, science in its leaps and bounds is constantly generating new knowledge and modern technology. The frontiers of technology have been expanding fast. Traditional and modern technologies must be blended synergistically, what Swaminathan calls Eco-technology. Legal systems and formal sectors must therefore duly recognize the traditional wisdom and technologies so as to broaden and sustain the knowledge base.

Technologies while promoting growth must also have a human face. The following features will humanize technologies for ensuring sustainable livelihood: (1) Enhance capabilities for sustainable livelihood, and provide for new livelihood opportunities for the poor, (2) Improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of communities' assets, and establish effective linkages between community mobilization and the government and other service providers, (3) Ensure the congruence and synergism among environmental, economic and social (gender and other equities) securities, and (4) Empower communities, especially the vulnerable ones, to harness new and appropriate technologies and enable them to blend traditional local technologies with modern technologies. If such technologies are developed in close partnership with stakeholders, widespread adoption and further improvement will be assured.

Investment in agriculture, agricultural sciences, and research and technology development

The efficacy and effectiveness of investment in agricultural sciences, research and technology development is closely linked with the overall investment in agriculture and rural development. Any imbalance between the two will depress the overall performance of the sector as a whole. For instance, the science-led Green Revolution which accelerated agricultural and economic development was greatly dependent on the congruent and simultaneous enhanced investment in technology generation, technology diffusion, inputs support (seed, fertilizer and irrigation), agricultural education and human resource development, market support and policy development.

During the Green Revolution, improvement in productivity was the key to sustained agriculture and rural development. Expansion of cultivable area is no longer a practical option in A-P as the frontiers were reached long ago. Agricultural productivity requires investment in human resources, farm-to-market roads and related infrastructure, and support services such as agricultural research and development and improved technology information and extension. In the past, technology has proven to be instrumental in accelerating agricultural and economic development. Improvement in yield was the primary source of growth and it will be more so in the future. Investments in agricultural research and technology development had very high rates of return, generally exceeding 30 percent per year (Table 31). This trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. Yet, average annual growth rates of public agricultural research expenditures in the A-P Region have slowed since the 1970s, and there is negligible increase in private expenditure on agricultural research (Alston, et. al., 2000).

Table 31: Return (percent) to agricultural-research investment


Internal rate of return, 1958-98

All known locations


Sub-Saharan Africa


Asia and the Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean


West Asia and North Africa


Multinational or International


Note: Shows average of 1809 public sector programmes

Source: Lipton, Sinha and Blackman 2001 (cited in UNDP Human Development Report 2001)

There is a tremendous gap between developed and developing countries in the extent of investment in agricultural research and technology development. Developing countries on average generally allocate only 0.1 to 0.5 percent of their agricultural GDP to agricultural research, compared to 2 percent or more in industrialized countries. The difference in absolute terms is much larger, since agricultural GDP of OECD countries is several times of that of the developing countries.

The disparity in investment in agricultural sciences and research is further aggravated when it relates to cutting edge technologies such as biotechnology, thus furthermore widening the gap in the ability of harnessing frontier scientific developments, resulting in highly skewed competitiveness in the globalized world. It was estimated that OECD countries' public sector annually invested nearly US$ 1.8 billion on agricultural biotechnology research, whereas the developing countries' NARSs annually invested about US$150 million, plus about US$ 40 to 50 million donors support and around US$25 million invested by the CGIAR centers (Byerlee and Fischer, 2001). Considering that in the industrialized countries the public sector accounts for only about 50 percent of the total investment in agricultural research, and in developing countries the public sector finances around 90 percent of total agricultural research, the total spending on agricultural biotechnology in the developing countries is about 6 to 7 percent of that in the industrialized countries. The developing countries can ill afford to miss the exciting opportunities of capturing the scientific revolutions in improving their agricultural production and competitiveness; they must increase their investment in agricultural research and technology development.

The World Food Summit (WFS) reaffirmed the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. The 112 Heads of State and Government of the 186 nations participating in that Summit pledged their political will and commitment to halving the number of undernourished people no later than 2015. However, as mentioned earlier, the progress towards achieving the target is woefully slow. This suggests the need for reconsideration of strategies and for strengthened, targeted and specific efforts to achieve the WFS goals. The WFS had envisaged that science, agricultural research, and technology development will play a major role towards achieving summit's goal and had recommended their strengthening.

In developing countries, generally more than 60 percent of the population is rural, and directly dependent on agriculture. Against this, 90 percent of these governments on average devote lower than 10 percent of their spendings to agriculture (FAO, 2001d). Moreover, the rural poor accounts for a majority share (70 percent) in poverty, which is expected to remain at more than 50 percent till 2035. Rural-urban disparity in mean income and in access to education, health and sanitation services is not falling. Rural poverty has been closely linked with low agricultural production and productivity and can largely be ascribed to the declining investment and the resultant declining capital formation in agriculture. Recognizing that the role of agricultural development in poverty and food insecurity eradication is crucial, it is paradoxical that agricultural and rural development is not being pursued with top-most priority. We must realize that if agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will go right.

There are wide differences among the developing regions in their spending on per agricultural worker, being the lowest in South Asia, which was much lower than that in the second lowest region - Sub-Saharan Africa (Table 32). These two regions have the highest concentration of malnourished and poor people. The inverse relationship between prevalence of undernourishment and government expenditure is apparent. The average expenditure per agricultural worker in the highest undernourishment category is at least 30 times lower than that of the category with the lowest prevalence.

Table 32: Expenditure per agricultural worker (developing region 1990-1998)











L. America and Caribbean










Near East and N. Africa










Africa South of the Sahara










East and SE Asia*










South Asia










Source: IMF, Government Financial Statistics Yearbook, 2000
* Singapore not included (expenditure per agricultural worker in the range of 8000 $).
It is a matter of great concern that aid to agriculture is collapsing. Real disbursement of net aid to agriculture in the late 1990s was one-third the level in the late 1980s, which was itself down from the late 1970s. A recent study of Rural Asia by the Asian Development Bank (ADB, 2000) reiterated that agricultural growth is a prerequisite for economic development in general and rural development in particular, and that it must be pro-poor for improving quality of life in rural areas. Yet, direct lending and technical assistance to agriculture by ADB has sharply declined, from US $ 1,242 million in 1990 to only US $ 433 million in 1999 (FAO, 2001d). The World Bank/IDA halved their lendings for agriculture from 18 percent in 1990 to 9 percent in 1999. Financial support to FAO and other concerned UN agencies has also stagnated and declined. For instance, FAO's total annual budget permits an annual allocation of hardly 40 cents per malnourished person. Against this, almost US$ 1 billion is spent everyday as agricultural subsidy in OECD countries. Insufficient investment and declining external transfers towards agriculture are bound to adversely affect the capacity of future generation to feed themselves.

The waning trend is a matter of still greater concern as the decline comes at a time when the agriculture sector faces issues (e.g. sustainability, improving rainfed agriculture, productivity of small farms, globalization and increasing competition) that are quite complex and increasingly crucial. Accelerated investment is needed to facilitate agricultural and rural development through: (i) strengthening of research, education and technology development capacities leading to enhanced productivity and sustainability, (ii) reliable and timely availability of quality inputs at reasonable prices, institutional and credit supports, especially for small and resource-poor farmers, and support to land and water resources development, (iii) improved rural employment opportunities, including those through creating agricultural clinics, seed and grain banks, agriculture-based rural agro-processing and agro-industries, gender equity, improved rural infrastructures, including access to information, and effective markets, farm to market roads and related infrastructure, and (iv) primary education, health care, clean drinking water, safe sanitation, adequate nutrition particularly for children (including mid-day meal at school) and women. These investments will need to be supported through policies that do not discriminate against agriculture and the rural poor. Given the increasing role of small farmers in food security and poverty alleviation, development efforts must be geared to meet the needs and potential of such farmers through their active participation in the growth process (Pinstrup-Andersen, 2000b).

The waning trend must be reversed by appropriate policies and concerted advocacy at national and international levels. For this campaign, the underlying factors to the dwindling public investments in the agriculture and rural sector must be thoroughly examined and understood. The World Bank's Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) offers an opportunity to analyze this trend, but unfortunately, PRSPs elaborated so far are generally not giving due attention to agriculture and rural sectors. Individual countries, with technical support from FAO, IFAD and other concerned agencies, particularly through the CCA and UNDAF process of UNDP should ensure that the concern and prospects of agricultural and rural development are duly reflected in the PRSP. Investments must directly be made on those items which will most effectively and immediately improve agricultural production (supplies) and income.

FAO's analysis Mobilizing Resources to Fight Hunger (FAO, 2001d) concludes that lack of sufficient investment in agriculture contributed to insufficient progress in the alleviation of hunger during the 1990s, despite the fact that the desired reduction in undernourishment levels can be and has been achieved by directing more resources towards agriculture. It emphasizes that "to meet the WFS target the political will by both national governments and international foreign donors is needed to direct sufficient resources to food and agriculture in a way that will increase productivity, employment and access to food, in particular in the rural areas, and to lift the poorest of the poor from severe levels of undernourishment."

Pro-poor science development and technology transfer: science with a human face

Science can greatly promote inclusive development by addressing the needs and opportunities of poor, less-favoured areas, neglected and excluded communities. Even biotechnology can be geared towards this cause. Genetic engineering is possible for features such as improved productivity of orphan crops (millets, roots and tubers), indigenous fruits and vegetables, improved tolerance to pests and diseases and to drought and other physical stresses, increased mineral and vitamin-A contents, and other nutritional and quality traits generally inadequate in diets of poor people. For livestock, low-cost and effective diagnostic kits and vaccines have a special appeal for the poor, as in most developing countries the bulk of the animal population is owned by small-scale farmers. Science with a human face (Dar, 2001) has a special appeal for the A-P Region - the home of two-third of world's poor and hungry.

Today's approach to poverty alleviation and food security in agricultural research agrees that while increased aggregate food supply alone is an important achievement, it is not enough to achieve food security at the household and individual level. There is a need to ensure that the food is accessible and affordable and that adequate quantities are consumed and absorbed. Proper nutrition includes health and sanitation - the prevention of diarrhoea and other transmitted infections among children. Although agricultural research itself usually cannot address these issues, by being aware of their importance, scientists can more closely integrate with policy makers, so that their contribution to the policy debate is included and that the important outputs targeted at the poor - such as higher quality, more nutritious foods - actually are produced in greater quantities and do reach the poor.

In delivery of science and technology products to the end users, the lack of functional linkages between research, extension, farmers, and markets has resulted in farmers (and others) not receiving the know-how and technologies needed to increase yields and to realize potential income. Again, agricultural scientists cannot tackle this problem alone, however, they can work in diversified partnerships that confront those institutional barriers that prevent the functional linkages. The private sector can help farmers through contract cultivation and buy-back arrangements.

As we harness science for growth and development, we must be mindful of the interests of millions of small and marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourer and resource-poor fisherfolk and forest dwellers, and must not neglect their social aspirations for a more just, equitable and sustainable livelihood (Singh, 2001b). As repeatedly emphasized by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen (1999), the lack of entitlement to basic resources is the main cause of hunger and poverty. Even a small piece of land or a single buffalo or a cow makes tremendous difference in the livelihood of a landless agricultural worker who has no access to these resources (Singh, 2001a). Agrarian reforms to grant titles to land and water, and increased access to credit, knowledge and markets, will enhance productivity, sustainability (through better land and water care) and income, thereby resulting in appreciable reductions in hunger and poverty. Technologies and socio-economic safety nets designed for small-scale and marginal farmers are essential for supporting rural livelihoods.

Off-farm employment and promotion of small-scale entrepreneurship will prove highly synergistic to agricultural production by small-scale farmers. Various technology and tool kits could be created for household, community, and village-level agroprocessing. Promotion of cooperatives, agri-clinics and agri-business centres will greatly enhance rural employment, particularly the rural youth, who often are unemployed or underemployed. As envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi, policies must support production by masses and not factory-based mass production to ensure employment security

The existence of an enabling environment to judiciously exploit scientific and technological developments is as important, if not more, as the technology itself. There must be policies, institutions and infrastructures to provide clearly defined and enforceable property rights, reduce transaction costs and encourage broad-based, decentralized development of activities in rural areas to enhance growth efforts. Along with the implementation of policies, there must be reforms that encourage private and public sector participation in economic activities in accord with the comparative advantages. Thus, the public sector should focus on addressing cases of market failure and thus enhance efficiency of private operations, should ensure competitiveness and quality of service, and should address the long-term social-welfare objectives of protecting environments and common-property resources, and of developing human-resources (FAO, 1998c).

Prudent macroeconomic management to restore growth and to prevent erosion of past gains in poverty reduction must urgently be put in place. The growth-led poverty-alleviation strategy that has proven effective in the past, with an eye on equity and measures to bridge the various divides, must continue. Even in socialistic countries the rich-poor divide has been widening. For instance, China's Gini Coefficient now averages between 0.40 and 0.43, above the recognized danger level (UNDP, HDR, 2001). It is further feared that China's accession to WTO will only make matters worse, and rural poverty will further intensify. Based on hindsight, it is essential to develop appropriate institutions and national capabilities - including robust and well-regulated financial markets. This must be supplemented with appropriate input and output pricing policies, water rights and irrigation systems design and management to encourage efficient, equitable and sustainable use of resources and attract investment. Future research in agricultural sciences for impact on food insecurity and poverty should also be strongly linked to strategic assessments of commodity and market trends as well as input supply and constraints of access: the information generated will help to inform/direct investment in science to the greater benefit of the poor. Until recently agriculture tended to be a gamble on monsoons in South Asia, but it is now becoming a gamble in the markets. Market and socio-economic analyses must help in reducing the uncertainties and risks which hit the poor most severely.

Rainfed and other-less favoured areas have the highest concentration of poor and malnourished people; these areas are characterized by low agricultural productivity, high natural resource degradation, limited access to infrastructure and markets, and other socio-economic constraints. During the Green Revolution, large investment was made in irrigation and irrigated areas, and in the development and promotion of HYVseed- fertilizer-irrigation technology. This approach paid off well, and rapid advances were made in food production. However, in recent years additional investments in favoured areas have faced diminishing returns and social and environmental problems, whereas there is evidence (Table 33) to suggest that investment in less-favoured areas can yield relatively high rates of economic return and also significantly lessen poverty and environmental and resource degradation (Fan, Hazell and Thorat, 1999). Further, such investment does not imply any slackening in improving efficiency of irrigated production systems. On the contrary, high priority should be given to the development of technologies and knowledge which will enhance efficiencies of land, water, and fertilizer use for improving both economic and environmental proficiency.

Table 33: Incremental effects of government spending on poverty, India

Investment in:

Decrease in number of poor,
per million Rupees spent


Research and development















Soil and water



Rural development






Source: Fan, Hazell and Thorat, 1999

Science-led agricultural diversification

Science and technology development has been the main force in enlarging people's choice both by expanding human capacities to harness technologies and by providing a menu of products to meet fast-changing needs and demands of humankind. There are several excellent examples of science and technology led diversification in the Asia-Pacific region. The development of period-bound (from season-bound) varieties of rice and wheat that incorporated resistance to diseases and pests (the Green Revolution) rendered the rice-wheat sequence a major agro-economic success, with attendant socio-economic and agro-ecological implications. Thus, the extensive wheat belts of the Indian and Pakistan Punjabs, which before the mid-1960s grew little rice (except the long-duration Basmati rices), are now the leading rice-producing areas; they continue to produce wheat within a rice-wheat sequence. The converse happened in West Bengal and Bangladesh: historically a rice belt, this zone adopted the rice-wheat sequence and became a substantial wheat producer. Though this diversification promoted intensification, the overall crop-diversity index decreased.

Diversification has always been an important strategy in agricultural production and distribution in the A-P Region, for the following reasons:

To realize the fore-listed possibilities, appropriate technologies shall need to be developed and diffused.

Scientific and technological developments must be matched with socio-economic and agro-ecological scenarios to achieve the required diversification. Under liberalized-trade regimes, dynamic and flexible systems must be in place to meet fast-changing demands and opportunities. Strong policy guidance and institutional and scientific supports will be needed to undertake effective diversification. Likewise, increasing urbanization and other demographic shifts will call for changes in the food basket, with increases in meat, milk, egg, fruits, vegetables, fats, and oils. Research priorities will need to adjust to these changes. Often, these realities are not reflected in the allocation and deployment of financial and human resources in many national agricultural research systems (NARSs). This shortcoming should be corrected.

Agricultural diversification and intensification must be complementary and not contradictory. This makes greater sense when one thinks in terms of congruence of productivity, sustainability, profitability, and equity. Moreover, diversification should not be seen as an end in itself, but, keeping in mind the needs and prospects at various levels, namely, household, community, village, sub-region, region and nation levels, it should be seen as a means to achieve targeted growth and development. For instance, for diversification out of and around rice, several countries have changed or plan to change their irrigation and water-use systems - which were designed primarily for rice cultivation. However, flexibility should be maintained in the production and processing systems to take advantage of new technologies and opportunities - consistent with long-term socio-economic, ecological, and environmental goals. Policies and institutional support, such as support prices, government procurement, public distribution systems, which are primarily directed to cereals production and distribution, will need to be reviewed.

Farmers will respond to technology options, price signals, and market opportunities, but short-term gains to certain households and communities should not sacrifice the future and diverse options for growth. In Thailand, a positive combination of technologies and market opportunites triggered a conversion of rice fields into saline-water prawn-culture fields. There were initial economic gains, whereafter prices fell, prawn-culture fields were abandoned, and their high salinity and adverse soil properties rendered them unsuitable for rice or other crops. Highly fertile lands were thus permanently lost to the country. Clearly, there is a need for changing the technology, policy and regulatory policy options to ensure congruence of profitability, sustainability and equity in the diversification process. The Thailand experience should be shared by other countries to avoid the pitfalls.

Resolutions and declarations adopted at some of the major global summits, conventions, and conferences have called for significant policy adjustments at national and international levels; these shall impact strongly on technology development, technology acquisition, and agricultural diversification. The Millennium Summit (2000), the World Food Summit (1996), the World Bank, ADB, and G-8 Summit (2001) all identified poverty eradication and hunger alleviation as the foremost global priorities, and emphasized the role of science and technology in fighting these global social evils. The Global Plan of Action adopted at the WFS approved as FAO's core programme a Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS). The SPFS is based on four mutually reinforcing pillars, namely (i) development of water management and irrigation potential, (ii) intensified crop production, (iii) diversification into tree crop, fish, and small animal production and (iv) constraints analysis.

The diversification of production systems comprises:

As globalization and trade liberalization gain momentum, regions, sub-regions, countries, and within-country ecozones (and depending on comparative advantages and compatibility with agro-ecological and socio-economic settings) will specialize. Overall, this may or may not lead to increased diversification at farm or/and country level. With the trustful adoption of the various provisions, such as phasing out of subsidies and the adoption of 'polluter pays', there shall be pressure to develop technologies and knowledge for improving input (land, water, fertilizer, labour) use efficiency and to minimize pollution. Inefficiency in irrigation (which is widespread) and in cropping and water management must be corrected so that systems become ecomically competitive and environmentally friendly.

The A-P Region is experiencing a livestock revolution. Since 1980, Asia's livestock production has grown two to four times faster than the global average, and is forecast (FAO, 2000a) to maintain high growth until Year 2030. This will require diversification to forage and feed crops - especially maize. Mixed farming systems are dominant in developing Asia, and are likely to continue so because most of Asia's livestock are owned by small-holder farmers (Singh and Kumar, 2001). Hopefully, this feature will promote gender equity, since many small-scale and poor Asian women derive proportionately more of their wealth from livestock than do the larger-scale farmers (Delgado et al. 1999). Moreover, mixed crop-livestock farming systems are environment-friendly, are buffered against weather and socio-economic aberrations, and promote organic agriculture. Technologies suitable for mixed farming, especially for small-holdings, should have priority for development and diffusion. Moreover, these production systems should be linked to effective markets to increase farm income.

Technological transformations are intertwined with economic globalization and product diversification. Major political changes and the new tools of information and communication have rendered the world a global village. Liberalization has brought a focus on technology as a major factor in competitive marketing. These developments will promote vertical diversification. Thus, as trade shifts from primary products towards processed and manufactured products, greater emphasis will be needed for agro-processing and post-harvest technologies that convert primary products into quality products and value-added products. Horizontal and vertical diversification can together proceed to expand options for quality products that meet fast-changing demands of local and foreign markets. These moves will promote farmer-industry linkage, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), rural entrepreneurships, and off-farm rural employment. It will be necessary to create marketing infrastructures that pay increased attention to food safety (as by a cold chain) and to minimize post-harvest losses - particularly large for horticultural, livestock, and fish products. Institutional innovations will have to be explored, e.g. contract farming, nucleus-estate linkage systems, and futures markets. The agricultural research system will have to be reoriented towards these new challenges.

The United Nations Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) is providing assistance (Mojarov, 2001) to commodity-dependent developing countries to undertake vertical and horizontal diversification which are complementary and interactive. The objectives of the concerned project are: (i) to promote horizontal, vertical, and geographical diversification of production and trade structures, (ii) to improve governments' capacities to formulate focussed, effective, and sequenced policies, (iii) to increase the competence of enterprises in adapting business strategies and supplies to the Post-Uruguay round trading framework, and (iv) to strengthen positive linkages between the commodity sector and the rest of the economy. In order to achieve these objectives, policy-oriented research on trade diversification, domestic needs, levels of self-sufficiency and self-reliance, markets and prices, and development implications of diversification (especially for disadvantaged segments of society) will be needed. Commensurate trained human resources and access to information must be in place to successfully undertake these studies.

Efforts are underway in different countries to identify specialty commodities, such as off-season varieties and production systems, new crops, and novel varieties and breeds to capture new opportunities. With the increasing demand for herbal medicines and botanicals, and for organically produced food, aquaculture and other products, several countries have developed specific production and distribution patterns. But, these diversifications must be consistent together with biodiversity conservation and economic security and sustainability. For instance, with the availability of high yielding and superior quality durum wheat varieties, the state of Madhya Pradesh in India is rapidly expanding production and marketing, including export, of these wheats. Because of the differential rust resistance mechanisms of durum wheats, large-scale production of these wheats in Central (Madhya) India provides a large scale natural barrier to the build up of rust epidemic on the bread wheat (aestivum) which constitutes the bulk of the country's wheat industry and is the major food security component (Pandey, 2000). Public and private sector support in supplying seed, planting materials, processing, procurement and marketing to promote these initiatives is a sine qua non. Individual countries have developed or are developing policies, strategies and programmes on such diversifications. As several of these initiatives are innovative and diverse, there is good scope for sharing such experiences through the regional information system networks, including those under FAO/RAP and APAARI. A well-designed regional mechanism involving national governments, international organizations and financing agencies such as FAO, ESCAP, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNCTAD, ILO, World Bank and ADB might be created to support and guide agricultural diversification as an instrument of poverty alleviation, food security, natural resource conservation and equity.

Building bridges for science: strategic partnerships and regulatory framework

Scientific discoveries, scientific information and technological products are multiplying geometrically. But much of this growth is taking place in developed countries. Among various disciplines, the progress in life sciences, especially molecular biology, biotechnology and bioinformatics, has been phenomenal, and the 21st century may be dubbed as the century of bio-revolution. Another major trend of development is the increasing role of the private sector in research in the developed countries, particularly in biotechnology and informatics - encouraged through the broadening of the scope of intellectual property rights into life forms. With the provisions of sovereign rights of nations on the genetic resources within their territories under the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), and as a consequence of the WTO/TRIPS, the trend of proprietary technologies and germplasm may intensify even in the developing countries.

The above trends have widened the technology and digital divides. Considering that scientific and technological capacities of institutions, communities, regions and nations will underpin their competitive abilities in this ever competitive world, those with poor abilities to generate, adapt, adopt, and diffuse technologies will get poorer and poorer. But, this will be against the very spirit of one "global village" and truly liberalized world. Bridges will therefore need to be built between public and private sectors, north and south and the haves and have-nots to bridge the various divides.

Research is carried out in both public and private national and international institutions. Generally, the stated goal of public research organizations is to maximize societal benefits, particularly geared towards comprehensive food security, poverty alleviation and environmental protection, through the production and diffusion of knowledge and products which are national, and through international public goods freely available to the entire humankind. The private sector, on the other hand, operates to maximize its profits within acceptable levels of risk and to protect their competitive edge. Consequently, private-sector research and technologies are confined to those areas and commodities which will earn maximum returns on investments; their products, processes, and associated information are not freely available.

Based on goals, values, culture, complementarity and strengths and weaknesses, partnerships between the two systems should be forged and nurtured for their mutual benefits. For instance, public sector is generally rich in germplasm resources, indigenous knowledge, and national and international networks for technology assessment and dissemination and in setting, harmonizing, and implementing rules and standards. The private sector (particularly in developed countries) is generally stronger in frontier technologies, speed, efficiency, marketing technologies, and accessing capital. A blend of these attributes is bound to be much more effective than that achieved through the independent functioning of the two sectors. The main hurdle in bridging the two sectors is the IPR regime of the private sector. However, under the TRIPS agreement the public sector will also be evolving proprietary protection mechanisms, generally sui generis systems, consistent with national needs and aspiration. Thus, ultimately it should be possible to harmonize the IPR settings of the two sectors. In developing countries, public research institutions should have clear-cut policies on intellectual property, and adequate management capacity, which are presently lacking.

Geographically, the Asia-Pacific Region comprises 37 countries, 3 developed (Australia, Japan and New Zealand) and 34 developing (9 of which are Pacific Island countries, including Papua New Guinea). Thus, there is tremendous diversity among the countries. Among the NARSs of the developing countries, some, such as China, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and others, are scientifically advanced, an appreciable number have a moderately well developed NARS, and several have average to low capacities. Thus, there is ample scope for learning from the successful experiences. The Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), established by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, is a vibrant regional association that successfully promotes inter-country cooperation in scientific research, information, expertise and product sharing, human resources development, and formulation of research policies, strategies, and priorities. Similar associations have been established by the FAO regional office in forestry (Asia Pacific Association of Forestry Research Institutions), in fisheries, livestock, marketing, credit, and seeds. Regional research and technology development associations established by other international bodies, such as the Rockefeller-Foundation-supported Asian Rice Biotechnology Network (ARBN) and the ADB-funded Asian Maize Biotechnology Network (AMBIONET), are also providing excellent inter-country cooperation. FAO, with financial assistance from Japan, is in the process of establishing Asian networks on biotechnology and plant genetic resources. These "consortia" comprise not only public institutions but also private institutions, provide an excellent mechanism for linking the public with the private sector, and are instrumental in improving the overall capacity of the region in international negotiations and technology generation and sharing. Those countries which have so far not joined these associations/networks should join, and all member countries should contribute to and actively participate in these regional bodies. An association like APAARI should strive to raise funds to be able to procure and transfer "protected" technologies, products and expertise to those who are in need of such technologies but lack the resources.

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) constitutes a major international public sector research system with an excellent track record of generating effective technologies. The International Agricultural Research Centres (IARCs) of the CGIAR have long been interacting with the private sector, and mutually benefiting thereby. Some of the centers have formalized their collaborations through agreements. So far, the CGIAR system has been able to share its technologies and products as international public goods. But, increasingly there is pressure on the system from the collaborating private companies to institute appropriate intellectual protection on technologies and products arising from the use of their protected materials. The private sector is generally willing to license proprietary technologies to CGIAR but only on a negotiated basis (Dryden cited in Ryan and Spencer, 2001). But the private sector will most likely exclude frontline competitive technologies from such negotiations. The CGIAR must carve out a system which will allow a continuation of the free flow of technologies to the poor, without jeopardizing their partnership with the private sector; that sector will also expect to make appropriate adjustments. Financial and other support should be extended to the CGIAR system to enable it to pursue frontline research and generate highly competitive technologies, which, along with the genetic resources held by the IARCs, could constitute bargaining chips in negotiations with private and other public system institutions. Furthermore, more linkages should be established among IARCs to build complementary centres of excellence and avoid duplication of efforts.

Globalization and liberalization: the role of science

A comprehensive poverty-alleviation and food-security strategy must be anchored on the acceleration of food and agricultural production, as well as the sustained expansion of employment opportunities for both men and women - both on-farm and non-farm. Agricultural policies and strategies gloss over the fundamental role of gender to sustained food security. Rural women, in those A-P countries in which agriculture dominates the national economies, contribute to food security, but they face problems of food insecurity and unstable livelihood. Hence, by assisting women to improve their access and use of productive resources (including technologies and effective use of their own time), one could move closer to achieving the goal of food for all.

Countries with lower achievement in the Human Development Index and gender Development Index[2] have a larger percentage of their economically active population (both male and female) employed in the agriculture industry. Second, these same countries have a higher proportion of economically active women involved in agricultural activities relative to men. The disparities are likely to increase as rural to urban migration continues to change the composition of rural areas putting even greater responsibilities for the growth of the agricultural sector on women than they already have. In aggregate, women in rural areas in the poorer countries will be impacted most heavily as the agriculture population shifts over time. Agricultural technologies specifically designed to improve the efficiency and productivity of a female labour force will thus greatly improve overall agricultural productivity.

The Asian rural scenario is marked by shifting population trends and demographic phenomenon, such as migration, female labour arrangements for agriculture and rural production, rural women's lack of tenure to land, and uneven access to support systems to ensure productivity and welfare. Lack of analytical understanding leads to a failure of articulation and advocacy of the strategic gender aspect of demographic transition. There is a lack of organized empirical evidence and of key information on the negative impact of the gender bias - as of unpaid work of rural women within the family, child labour, inadequate nutrition for mothers and children, inequitable access to credit and support services and to health and education facilities. This lack contributes to the continuing inability to influence those agricultural policies, programmes, and policy makers that affect rural women.

The vision to empower rural women must move beyond rhetoric and must cease to be an unreachable aspiration. Social research must provide analytical information on rural women that can feed into policy formulation, and that can help articulate the demands of rural women to break the shackles of poverty, and pave the way to empowerment. Thus, the insecurity-poverty nexus, and its gender dimension, should be fully researched, understood, documented, and publicized. Science must help gender mainstreaming to fully realize this huge human capital wherewith to combat hunger and poverty. Women's education and status have overwhelming impact (Smith and Haddad, 2000)on child malnutrition (Figure 9)

Figure 9: Determinants of reductions in child malnutrition (% impact, 1970-95)

Source: Smith and Haddad (1999)
Note: Malnourished children refers to underweight children
Science to adjust with and guide the pace of globalization and liberalization

Globalization of agricultural trade will highlight various issues: access to markets, new opportunities for employment and income generation, productivity gains, and increased flow of investments into sustainable agriculture and rural development. It may force the generation and adoption of new technologies, shift production functions upwards, and attract new capital into the deprived sector. However, this will happen only when the interests of the majority of small-holder and subsistence farmers, fisher-folk, and forest dwellers are given due attention. As we globalise, it is imperative that we do not forget social aspirations for a more just, inclusive, equitable and sustainable way of life. The integration of biological, physical, and social sciences will be necessary to maximize the benefits and minimize the adverse effects of globalization. If managed well, liberali-zation of agricultural markets could ultimately be beneficial to developing countries.

The Association of World Council of Churches Related Development Organizations in Europe (Madeley, 1999) analysed 36 case studies in Africa, Asia, and Latin America; it concluded that structural adjustment programmes, including trade liberalization, have worsened the food security of rural poor in developing countries. Based on 14 country case studies, FAO (2000c) suggested the need for a cautious approach to trade liberalization if social costs are to be minimized, as the trickle down theory has generally failed to operate in most developing economies. This calls for deciding the appropriate pace and sequence of trade liberalization, based on in-depth and dynamic research, and on the status and capability of the economic agents in agriculture - technology, infrastructure, and social settings.

Trade agreements must be accompanied by operationally effective measures to ease the adjustment process for small-holder farmers in developing countries. Recalling that more than 80 percent of farmers are small-holders who constitute the bulk of the national population and of its poor and malnourished, the World Trade Agreement in Agriculture could destroy rural livelihood, since imports of food and agricultural products would amount to import of unemployment (Oxfam, 2000). Necessary trade protection and safety nets must be provided to protect the small producers whose only livelihood is agriculture. Developing countries and concerned UN agencies should develop and foster a new Trade Ethic, and work to introduce a livelihood security box in the revised World Trade Agreement on Agriculture (Swaminathan, 2000b). In-depth socio-economic studies will be needed in individual countries to take full advantage of the provisions in the "Green Box". Unfortunately, several developing countries do not have the required capacity to undertake such studies, nor to make the necessary adjustments. FAO and other relevant international systems must assist such countries.

Asia-Pacific is an economically diverse region, especially in agricultural trade and food security. It includes major net food exporters that suffer food insecurity, and also major net food importers that are relatively food secure. It includes also food-insecure non-food-trading countries, food-insecure importers, relatively food-secure self-sufficient countries, and food-secure exporters. The differences among them are accentuated by the level of development and the structure of the agricultural sector. Policy researches by the different groups of countries must be carried out, and experiences shared through existing networks. The countries differ widely, also, in the degree of integration of their science, technology, trade, and liberalization policies. The following key areas could be effectively linked and integrated:

In this diverse scenario, it is difficult for countries to cooperate and to forge common positions on critical issues in food and agriculture. Some food and agricultural exporting countries have formed trade organizations (such as the "Cairns Group") for liberalization advocacy; and some major food and agricultural importers have established strong links to block rice-trade liberalization. But the majority of developing countries have vague and oftentimes ambiguous positions on key issues such as opening of domestic grain markets, producers' price support, consumers' subsidy, reserves stocking, import levy, export taxes, and state trading. Moreover, their trade policy decision-making is complicated by the wish to gain international-market access for their own exportable agricultural products. Even within governments, opinions are divided. Trade liberalization and food security policy platforms are thus not well-defined in many countries: there is need for research to help develop appropriate policies and plans.

Developing member countries have made commitment to the World Food Summit Plan of Action; it is therefore important that they define their stand on further food and agricultural trade liberalization. Asian developing countries must similarly formulate clear policies and take positions in the best interest of their people (particularly the poor), their overall economy, and their national and household food security. Detailed socio-economic and market studies must be undertaken to guide policy decisions. Where necessary and requested, FAO should provide technical support to needy countries. Country-by-country analyses will help identify common problems and solutions, and pave the way for regional or sub-regional negotiating positions and trading blocks. FAO has already helped strengthen the capacities of some developing countries in trade negotiation, and in sanitary and phytosanitary and food safety aspects. Nonetheless, new and emerging technologies to strengthen sanitary and phytosanitary measures and risk analysis and management capacities should be introduced and adapted, as should locally- generated technologies. FAO provides also training and infrastructure facilities to enable countries adhere to the food safety and agricultural products standards of the Codex Alimentarius Commission of FAO/WHO.

Linking science, nutrition, and development

The International Conference on Nutrition, 1992, recommended that all nations should have explicit policies and programmes on nutritional adequacy. FAO, as a follow-up to the Conference, strengthened its technical assistance to help member nations build their capacities to address nutrition issues. In this context, the FAO-facilitate Special Programme on Food Security is now active in 15 A-P countries (and other countries are seeking to participate). This science and technology based programme undertakes a phased introduction of natural-resource management, efficient water-use, sustainable farming systems, and diversification of income sources. Several countries are now pursuing the Programme's "expansion phase".

There is increasing recognition and conviction that to improv food and nutrition security it shall be know who and where are the vulnerable people, and why they are vulnerable. Identifying disaster-prone peoples is a major part of this essential task. Establishing national, regional and global Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS) is currently being attempted as a follow-up to the World Food Summit. FAO is the prime mover of this multi-country and multi-agency venture. The system is based on latest developments in GIS, space technology-based resource mapping, informatics, statistics, and understanding of socio-economic profiles.

Dietary energy must come from diverse food sources if it is to support an active healthy life. Lack of food diversity causes nutritional deficiencies such as protein-energy malnutrition and micro-nutrient malnutrition; it must therefore be addressed through integrated food-based strategies using a community-based approach. Such an approach can promote active participation of communities in partnership with governments and other partners to address issues of food insecurity and malnutrition. Crops and other commodities especially designed to bridge nutritional gaps, such as "Golden Rice", canola varieties having a healthy-fatty acid composition and high lysine, and high tryptophane maize varieties should be promoted through wise policies and production and distribution systems.

Unless their planning is community-participatory, human-nutrition and development projects can seldom be sustained. Communities must therefore be involved in the identification, design, implementation, and monitoring of development programmes and technological and socio-economic interventions to improve food security and nutrition. Such an approach puts people at the centre of development and recognizes that poor people must themselves identify their own development priorities and select the most appropriate technologies and products.

Household food security and nutrition are good entry points for encouraging greater community participation. Since access to food, care, and health are daily problems, these topics are of immediate concern to poor communities and households. With appropriate assistance, they will be more likely to participate in finding appropriate solutions to their identified needs.

Community-centred approaches for improving nutrition aim at empowering communities to demand effectively the improved technologies and services to better their situation. This may involve building local capacity and supporting local initiatives and institutions for implementing food and nutrition programmes - including training in participatory appraisal and planning methods, expanding and diversifying food production, improving food preservation and storageand water supplies, expanding and diversifying income-generating activities and skills for small-scale businesses, providing basic education to women, and nutrition education and better access to basic health care services.

Central to this approach is the empowerment of community-level volunteers through a process of social mobilization. Community volunteers are selected by the community and receive appropriate training to enable them to function as mobilizers or "change agents" to translate vital nutrition improvement strategies into concrete actions. At a ratio of one mobilizer to ten households, a community can develop actions that are feasible and fully compatible within their own community context. The approach significantly improves coverage and outreach of existing basic services and adoption of new technologies and products, thereby reinforcing local efforts for the alleviation of malnutrition.

Community-nutrition programming focuses on village development projects, strengthens multi-sectoral collaboration, promotes the use of essential minimum needs indicators, encourages social mobilization for implementing effective community-level actions, provides appropriate training for capacity building at district, sub-district and community levels, and develops appropriate sets of nutrition-relevant menus/activities for community implementation.

A range of food groups is essential in providing food security; this range is specific to the locality and to the resources and means of the people. Thus fish and pulses, having high nutritional value, greatly supplement nutritional requirements of all people, especially children. The research and development needs of fisheries, livestock, and horticultural crops deserve greater attention; but efforts must continue for cereals, oilseeds, roots and tubers. Similarly, indigenous food crops and other food sources deserve special attention - not only to enrich nutrition and food options, but also to ensur their conservation as invaluable genetic resources for sustained livelihoods.

Strategies and measures that can be adapted, adopted, and implemented by Asian countries hold the key to the 21st century in terms of linking science, nutrition and development. Past international initiatives were rightly concerned with hunger and malnutrition; thus several plausible sets of interventions and actions evolved. While many of these initiatives also showed concern for the poor, not all were able to translate the concern for improving nutritional well-being into action. Consequently, identification of successful ways and means for achieving progress is especially important.

Planners and policy makers need an effective policy and programme framework for making decisions and for formulating workable and effective interventions. These not only need to adapt easily to different country situations, but they need also to be sensitive and responsive to the Asian socio-cultural contexts and complexities, especially since the socio-economic situation is rapidly changing and urbanizing, and encountering threats of excess and deficits in both food and nutrition insecurity. Additionally, effective interventions require nutritional surveillance; provision of nutritional security is particularly needed during emergencies and economic crises.

Malnutrition is complex in its determinants; its elimination thus requires the use of broad- based economic and social policies, complemented by targeted interventions. Typically, the requirement is a diverse set of macro-economic policies in combination with measures that alleviate poverty and malnutrition, while serving also to support sustainable nutritional security. Education (particularly of women) and health care (Smith and Haddad, 2000) each help alleviate malnutrition - in adults and in children.

[2] Human Development Index (HDI) is based on three indicators; longevity, as measured by life expectancy at birth; educational attainment as measured by combination of adult literacy (two thirds weight) and combined primary, secondary and tertiary enrolment ratios (one third weight); and standard of living, as measured by real GDP per capita. Gender Development Index (GDI) uses the same variables as HDI. The difference is that GDI adjusts the average achievement of each country’s life expectancy, educational attainment and income in accordance with the disparity in achievement between women and men.

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