Enhancing Private-Sector Investment in Agricultural Research Development and Extension (R,D&E) in Australia
The role of public-sector agricultural research, development and extension (R,D&E) investment as a starting point for innovation and productivity growth in agriculture is well understood, with numerous international studies highlighting the linkages between long-term publicly-funded agricultural R,D&E investment and agricultural productivity growth. Less well understood, however, are the linkages between private-sector agricultural R,D&E investment and agricultural productivity growth. This arises in part because of the shorter history of private-sector agricultural R,D&E investment, but also due to the lack of clarity surrounding the motivations for, and the nature and extent of private-sector investment. Further complicating this lack of clarity is the multinational nature of much private-sector agricultural R,D&E investment, with many of the investment decisions made in the context of global market opportunities, rather than national agriculture sector priorities.
For a relatively small and agriculturally unique market such as Australia, the engagement of the private sector in agricultural R,D&E investment is essential in order to maximise national agricultural R,D&E efforts, but also challenging due to the lack of information about such investment. The research reported here had the objective of developing a better information base about private-sector agricultural R,D&E investment in Australia, in order to find ways to incentivise such investment, with the longer-term goal of optimising national agricultural productivity growth.he research reported here aimed to obtain a better understanding of role of the private sector in agricultural research, development and extension (R,D&E) in Australia, with a particular focus on those factors or policies that are likely to enhance the role of the private sector in agricultural R,D&E.
The Australian Farm Institute previously conducted research into private-sector investment in agricultural R,D&E in Australia in 2011. The focus of the previous research was on quantifying investment by the private sector, and obtaining a better understanding of the nature of that investment.
Understanding where and how investment in agricultural R,D&E is occurring, from both public and private sources, is important for the formation of good public policy and for strategy development for private entities. This data is needed to ensure that critical capacity is retained in vital research areas and that appropriate collaborative efforts are identified to maximise the effectiveness of research and development (R&D) investment. The opaque nature of R&D classifications for statistical purposes and the poorly defined boundaries between food processing (and other industrial processes) and production within the food and agriculture supply chain continue to frustrate efforts to understand investment trends and potential areas requiring additional investment.