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Policies and Institutional Framework


Since the agricultural scenario is changed, the policies also need to change. The policy changes should reflect continued priority on food and nutritional security, increased market orientation, focus on disadvantaged regions, break yield and quality barriers by strengthening basic and strategic research, provide for an enhanced role of the private sector, NGOs etc.

First of all, agricultural development is increasingly market rather than production driven. With falling staple food prices and rising urban incomes, the pay-off has slowly improved to strategies that enhance agricultural diversification and increase the value added of agricultural production. Secondly, it is increasingly realized that the generation, diffusion and application of new knowledge often takes place more efficiently through the private sector5.  A significant part of the technology package that farmers use has also been designed by and supplied through private businesses (e.g., fertilizers, machinery, pesticides, seeds). With increasing commercialization, the role of the private sector as technology supplier grows. Thirdly, through the ICT revolution (particularly the internet), the ability to take advantage of knowledge that has been developed in other places, or for other purposes, has grown. How to capitalize on existing  new knowledge has become a question that is as important as how to generate and diffuse new knowledge.

This is where the concept of a national agricultural innovation system (NAIS) becomes important. A NAIS is made up of the institutions, enterprises and individuals that demand and supply knowledge and technologies, and the rules and mechanisms by which these different agents are interacting.  In this concept the focus is not only on the science suppliers but also on the totality of actors that are involved in innovation. The role of the private sector and as well as of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) associated with the innovation are more explicitly recognized, end-market demands are more integrated and the conditions that need to be fulfilled for innovations to become successful are better spelled out. Following the lessons from the industrial applications, the effectiveness of the NAIS depends on three main elements:

  • An institutional environment that is conducive to the flow of knowledge, to collaboration, experimentation and implementation of innovations.
  • A well articulated demand for new knowledge, technology and institutional and policy innovations. Producers, traders and others must be able to express their demand and must be in a capacity to adapt and adopt new knowledge and technology.
  • The effective supply of new knowledge and technology, from the public research system, but also from other sources, such as indigenous knowledge, private sector research and even transfers from abroad.
    The institutional framework for NAIP therefore needs to be designed to match with the policy changes and the elements of the NAIS articulated above.
  • The private sector encompasses all non-government agencies such as the corporate sector, voluntary organizations, self-help groups, partnership firms, individuals and community based organizations etc.