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CIAT is a nonprofit organization devoted to the agricultural and
economic development of the lowland tropics. The Government
of Colombia provides support as host country for CIAT and
furnishes a 522-hectare farm near Cali for CIAT's headquarters.
Collaborative work with the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario
(ICA) is carried ou't mainly at its Experimental Centers at Tu-
ripan6 and Carimagua. CIAT is financed by a number of donors
represented in the Consultative Group for International Agri-
cultural Research. During the current year these donors are the
United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the
Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Founda'tion, the W. K. Kellogg
Foundation, the Canadian International Development Agency
(CIDA), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Develop-
ment (IBRD) through the International Development Associa-
tion (IDA), the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), the
United Nations Environment Programme, the Ministry of
Overseas Development of the United Kingdom and the govern-
ments of 'the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands and
Switzerland. In addition, special project funds are supplied by
various of the aforementioned entities plus the International
Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada. Information
and conclusions reported herein do not necessarily reflect the
position of any of the aforementioned agencies, foundations or
Methods for allocating
resources in applied agricultural
research in Latin America
Editors: Per Pinstrup-Andersen
and Francis C. Byrnes
CIAT/ADC Workshop, Cal, Colombia. November 26-29, 1974
CENTRO INTERNATIONAL DE AGRICULTURE TROPICAL (CIAT)
Apartado A6reo 6713
Cali, Colombia S. A.
7 Introductory comments
Highlights of workshop conclusions and suggested international
8 P. Pinstrup-Andersen and F. C. Byrnes
Summary of workshop discussions:
13 B. L. Nestel and D. L. Franklin
Summaries of papers presented:
Strengthening national agricultural research services: some
concerns of the international community (Original in English)
22 A. C. McClung (presented by Vernon Ruttan)
The contribution of agricultural research to the achievement of
development goals (Original in English)
26 G. E. Schuh
Criteria for establishing research priorities and selecting research
projects (Original in English)
29 N. C. Brady
The decision-making process applied to research resource
allocation in a national institution: the case of ICA in Colombia
(Original in Spanish)
33 J. Ardila and M. Valderrama
The decision-making process applied to research resource
in a national institution: the case of INIAP in Ecuador (Original
36 K. Dow and E. Ampuero
Mechanisms for allocating resources in applied agricultural
research at EMBRAPA in Brazil (Original in Portuguese)
39 A. S. Lopes Neto
The decision-making process for resource allocation in private
agricultural research (Original in English.)
41 A. Grobman
The decision-making process applied to research resource
allocation in an international institute: the case of CIAT
(Original in Spanish)
44 E. Alvarez-Luna
Resource allocation in applied agricultural research in Latin
America: the case of IDB (Original in Spanish)
47 J. Soto-Angli
Resource allocation in the Agricultural Research Service and the
development of national programs (Original in English)
50 W. L. Fishel
Returns to agricultural research in Colombia (Original in
53 J. Ardila, R. Hertford, A. Rocha and C. Trujillo
An economic model for establishing priorities for agricultural
research and a test for the Brazilian economy (Original in
57 J. P. Ramalho de Castro and G. E. Schuh
A proposed model for improving the information base for research
resource allocation (English, and Spanish)
60 P. Pinstrup-Andersen, R. O. Diaz, M. Infante and.
N, R. de Londofio
63 List of participants
Acknowledgment for their contribution to workshop planning and execution
is due to a number of persons from CIAT including Eduardo Alvarez-Luna,
David Evans, Charles Francis, David Franklin, Barry Nestel, Grant Scobie and
Alberto Vald6s. Acknowledgment is due to the Research and Training Network
of 'the Agricultural Development Council (ADC/RTN) and CIAT for co-
sponsoring and financing the workshop. Special thanks are due to Dr.
Abraham Weisblat and Dr. Vernon Ruttan for their continuous support of
the workshop. The principal contribution to the success of the workshop was
provided by the workshop participants through their preparation of papers
and enthusiastic participation in workshop discussions. In particular, thanks
are due to the discussion openers Lucio Reca, Herndn Chaverra and Helio
Tollini and the moderators David Franklin and Barry Nestel for their effective
The critical role of agricultural research in expanding food production and
accelerating agricultural and economic development is now widely recognized.
In view of the vast range of goals to which developing countries aspire and
the magnitude of researchable problems in agriculture, how does the
agricultural research manager establish priorities and allocate limited human,
financial and physical resources among research programs and projects to
assure the greatest benefits from. research investments?
This real and persistent challenge to concerned individuals in both the
developing and developed world led the Centro Internacional de Agricultura
Tropical (CIAT) and the Research and Training Network of the Agricultural
Development Council (RTN/ADC) in November, 1974 to co-sponsor a
workshop aimed at 'the consideration of this issue.
Participating in the workshop were some 35 agricultural research managers,
agricultural scientists, donor agency representatives, national planners, systems
engineers and economists.
The workshop explored current decision-making processes for resource
allocations in applied agricultural research in Latin America. Then, the
workshop participants were asked to assess the needs for activities aimed at
assisting in establishing priorities and allocating resources within agricultural
research programs in Latin America. Finally, the workshop considered activities
expected to be most effective and the possible role of-national and international
entities in carrying them out.
The purpose of this publication is to make available a summary of the
workshop papers and .discussions,- to highlight workshop findings and
conclusions, and to suggest possible follow-up activities. While this publication
provides short summaries of the principal papers presented, texts of the papers
in their original language may be obtained free as long as available from CIAT,
Economics Unit, Apartado Adreo 6713, Cali, Colombia, South America.
HIGHLIGHTS OF WORKSHOP CONCLUSIONS AND SUGGESTED
F. C. Byrnes
Conclusions from workshop discussions
A summary of the workshop discussions is presented in the following
section; hence this discussion is limited to a brief presentation of some of
the conclusions that were reached.
Workshop presentations on methods currently used to establish priorities
and allocate research resources in four national and international research
organizations clearly demonstrated a desire for more information on the
relative expected pay-off from alternative research strategies. The scarcity of
information on the relative importance of existing researchable problems at the
farm level and the technology characteristics preferred by the farmer was
obvious. Furthermore, information seemed almost completely lacking on the
expected contribution of alternative lines of research to accomplish
Workshop discussions indicated that in some cases, national research
agencies had certain potentially useful data at their disposal, which could not
be used because no effective framework existed for analysis. In other cases,
attempts were made to develop such frameworks without the most essential
data being available.
Participants clearly expressed not only the need for more and better
information, but also the desirability and expected high pay-off of activities
providing such information. They cautioned, however, that great care must
be taken in selecting the activities, their content, and the method of putting
them into effect in order to assure the development of useful information
with direct application to the allocation of resources for agricultural research.
Discussions indicated that a few national research institutions are attempting
to develop methods for improved research resource allocation. These attempts
seem to suffer from either excessively bureaucratic procedures for project
selection or analytical framework too general to provide useful information. In
both cases, it appeared that relevant basic data are extremely scarce. How to
avoid these problems in order 'to assure that effective agricultural research is
facilitated rather than hampered remains a vivid challenge.
The workshop considered a number of other methodological frames of
reference for assisting the research manager in establishing priorities. Some are
still either too preliminary to evaluate or too general for direct utility; others
seem to offer great promise on specific issues, depending upon the availability
Participants agreed that additional work is needed to adapt available methods
to the specific needs of research managers and to develop certain methodological
components that are still missing. Efforts are needed to integrate relevant
socioeconomic and agrobiological issues into a viable methodology; and
interaction among research managers, agricultural scientists and economists is
essential. Such work would include the integration of the "macro" and "micro"
approaches so that priorities among (1) commodities and (2) disciplinary inputs
within commodities could be established simultaneously.
The work is expected to facilitate effective decision-making. Participants
warned that no attempt should be made to develop a comprehensive model to
replace the decision-maker but rather to develop one designer to improve his
effectiveness through more and better information on the cost-benefit ratios
of alternative research activities.
In addition to the foregoing, a number of other issues were introduced. A
discussion group on research responsibilities between national and international
institutions concluded that this issue should receive additional attention to
ensure that international center objectives with respect to specific commodities
correspond to national goals. On the question as to whether international
centers compete with national programs for research funds, comments indicated
that a relatively small amount of the "international community" funds currently
allocated to the international centers would have gone to national institutions
in the absence of 'the former. Discussants agreed, however, that more analysis
is needed to estimate the optimum distribution of external funds between the
two types of institutions, taking into account their interdependence. Such
analysis would need to consider 'the influence that research investments made
by international centers for specific commodities have on the amount of
national funds a country decides to invest in research in these same
The question as to who actually sets research priorities in national
institutions arose frequently; it appears that external donor agencies and
international centers play a significant role through earmarked and/or
commodity-specific funds and technical assistance. This situation places greal
responsibility on these external agencies to ensure that their priorities do in
fact correspond to national needs and that external and related national
resources are invested correctly.
Where external funds are not obtained, it appears that few decisions are
actually made on reallocation of research resources. Budget flexibility tends to
be low and the total budget for one year and its allocation tend to be determined
by multiplying the previous year's budget by some constant, with little
consideration of changing technical and socioeconomic factors. One specific
conclusion was that many national institutions do not appear to have effective
mechanisms for deciding when to stop a certain program or project.
The lack of adequate delivery systems, supporting institutions and public
policy are generally considered the principal limitations to the adoption of
new technology. But discussions on means of accelerating the rate of adoption
of new technology suggested the possibility that the inadequacy of technology
to solve farm-level problems in a way acceptable to the farmer might well be
the most important limitation to adoption. This limitation might be reduced or
eliminated through efforts to provide the research manager with more and
better information on actual farm-level problems and technology preferences.
The workshop suggested that agricultural and social scientists work together
to help assure that (1) research is relevant to the farm-level problems and
farmer preferences and (2) adequate technology is adopted rapidly .and
extensively. It was also recommended that measures be taken to ensure that
research and public policies reinforce one another in an effort to maximize
the contribution to the achievement of development goals.
International follow-up activities
While efforts to improve research resource allocation in national institutions
are national responsibilities to be resolved within national contexts, the
workshop clearly pointed out the need and desirability for certain international
activities which might include
1. Facilitating effective interaction among individuals and institutions
(within and outside Latin America) currently working on research
resource allocation methodology or capable of and interested in doing
so in order to (a) integrate the work, (b) reduce duplication, (c:)
promote additional work and (d) enhance the effectiveness of the
2. Carrying out certain parts of the research aimed at developing
methodological frames of reference
3. Assuring. that the methodology is applicable and acceptable to the
research manager by facilitating effective interaction among (a)
institutions and individuals currently working on methodology or
capable and interested in doing so (e.g., university economics and
agronomy departments) and (b) agricultural research institutions and
4. Preparing and testing pre- or postgraduate training material aimed
at improving communication between agricultural scientists and
economists, particularly with respect to research resource allocation
5. Training individuals from national research institutions in research
management, effective data collection and analysis useful for establishing
research priorities and allocating research resources
6. Providing assistance 'to national institutions in carrying out data
collection and analysis
The role of international agencies
Because the success of international research and research support depend
to a great extent on effective national research programs and since
"strengthening national institutions" is an objective common to many
international agencies, the above activities clearly fall within the mandate
of such agencies and could greatly enhance the contribution of the overall
international research and training efforts. Furthermore, the aforementioned
activities and the resulting information would be useful to each individual
international agency in allocating its own resources.
Frequently, international support to national research is commodity-oriented.
Funding agencies, national government and international research centers
arrive at decisions to carry out (through contractual projects) research,
training, and other development activities associated with one or more
commodities. Workshop participants stressed the need to consider carefully
the possible problems that funding agencies and centers may create for
national governments if appropriate attention is not first directed to how the
national authorities determine their priorities and make their decisions to
support a specific effort in the long run.
It is possible for external agencies to usurp the priority-setting function.
This can happen when external agencies mount major international projects
and draw scarce research talent away from problems of more current
importance in these particular countries than those externally selected.
The national research director is faced with the problem of interacting with
external funding agencies and enthusiastic commodity teams from various
international research centers, while dealing with the pressures generated by
within-country production, consumption or marketing groups. He must pick
and choose before finally designing a national agricultural research program.
Up to now, external agencies may have contributed 'to the decision-making
problems rather than helping to solve them.
Many of the issues most important initially for interaction between countries
and international agencies are not commodity specific although they are
usually commodity related and may involve commodities of no concern to
the international research centers. This suggests that international agencies
might seek ways to help national agencies establish new or revised machinery
for research resource allocation, evaluate present criteria and develop new
ones, collect and analyze data, and provide experience and guidance in these
new approaches. The immediate goals would be the development and
strengthening of research managers' decision-making processes.
Country representatives reminded the workshop that i't is important that
these actions be taken on an individual-country basis because the effective
solutions of many development problems depend upon their congruence .w;h
the economic, social, political and cultural environment in which 'they are
SUMMARY OF WORKSHOP DISCUSSIONS
B. L. Nestel
D. L: Franklin
The summary of our discussions over the last three and a half days is
presented within the framework of the workshop objectives as specified in
the program document.
The first of these four objectives states that we met to explore how
decisions are presently made on the allocation of resources in applied
agricultural research in Latin America. Emphasis was to be placed on who
made the decisions, what criteria were used, whether pressure groups
influenced research demands, and finally what quantity and quality of
information were available and/or utilized for decision-making. Secondly, we
were asked to assess the efficiency of 'the present decision-making framework
and the availability of relevant information to maximize the contribution of
agricultural research to the achievement of development goals. The third
objective of the workshop was to consider whether there was a need for
improved decision-making tools and/or more and better information. The final
goal of the workshop was to suggest ways to assist the decision-makers in
applied agricultural research in improving research resource allocation.
influenced research demands, and finally what quantity and quality of
providing more and better information and/or analytical tools for the decision-
maker. Finally we were asked to discuss potential benefits from collaborative
interdisciplinary research, training and other possible action, and the role of
CIAT in such action.
In his welcome address Nickel suggested that in order to have a more
productive research approach, there was a need for a more effective use of
resources in terms of orientation, organization and efficiency.
In terms of orientation, the conventional dichotomy between basic and
applied research was unfortunate and could be regarded as a constraint.
Nickel suggested that in place of the term "basic," either "opportunity" or
"interest-oriented" research would be preferable; and "mission" or
"problem-solving" would be preferable to the term "applied." In the latter
case, there was a need for more emphasis on action by interdisciplinary teams
of biologists and social scientists rather than on descriptive research alone.
In the organizational field, Nickel decried the traditional division between
research and extension with the low prestige traditionally afforded to the
latter activity. He stressed the need for a stronger two-way flow between
research and extension and the need for a dynamic approach to research
with recurrent program reviews and mutual reports of outcomes.
In dealing with efficiency, Nickel stressed the static nature of many official
and university research institutions that were often well endowed with both
financial and human resources which were underutilized. Frequently, the best
trained human resources in a developing country were found in its universities,
but there was often no mechanism for channeling the research carried out
by these people into national development programs. Indeed, in many cases
university research did not relate to national problems, even in countries where
universities constituted practically the sole center of agricultural research
Fishel pointed ou't that the decision-making process involves three distinct
-levels: the national planning or policymaking level, the sectorial or "sectoral"
,level,* and the activity or operational level. In discussing the decision-making
process, it seems that we have focused fairly heavily on decision-making at
the "sectoral" level; that is to say, we have not talked very much about
"policy" decision-making in terms of the intersectorial choices that confront
top policymakers at the Cabinet or National Planning Office'level. With the
exception of the contribution of Andersen et al. and Brady we have not talked
very much about decision-making at the level of the actual research leader or
director-be he national or international-although this observation is perhaps
less valid in the case of the private sector where Grobman's presentation did
deal with the decision-making process a't the operational level.
It is not surprising that we did not discuss decision-making at the highest
levels since we are a group of sectorially oriented people. However, a number
of speakers appeared to have been surprised and perhaps disappointed that
there was some reluctance to enter into detailed discussions of decision-making
at the operational level involving people who would actually have to implement
the decisions. We shall return to this later, but essentially it seems that we
may not yet have sufficient background to discuss this theme adequately.
Many of our discussions on the decision-making process appeared to be
focused on Fishel's "sectoral" level, allocating priorities between commodities.
* The word "sectoral" .was used by the author in preference to sectoriall" or "secular"
because he felt it was more in accordance with economic terminology (Editor's note).
It did seem from the discussions that this was the level at which comfnodity
priorities generally tended to be allocated, and a number of speakers
recognized that at this level the decision-makers had a duty to develop
priorities within the broad framework laid down by the National Planning
Although most countries have planning agencies and prepare sectorial plans,
it was pointed out that aTI too frequently there was little or no correlation
between agricultural research activities and national development plans, and
it appears that a great deal of past agricultural research has had a very limited
socioeconomic impact. Guerra was particularly critical of university research
and cited a study of postgraduate theses which indicated that a very high
percentage bore no relationship to the realities of agricultural problems in
It was pointed out forcibly by Brady 'that the scientific administrator had
a role to play in attempting to feed information not only into the sectoral
level but also into the highest political level, regarding both the developmental
potential of research programs and the feasibility of their goals. In more basic
language we might express this by saying that it seemed that the scientists in
many agricultural research institutions play, or feel that they play, only a
limited role in the orientation of 'that institution's research program although
a strong suggestion has been made by both Brady and Steppler that scientists
should adopt a more active role in this process. As far as decision-making at
the operational level was concerned, we did not really discuss this fully.
The discussions on the ICA and INIAP presentations indicated that budget
allocations for the previous year were a very strong determinant in the budget
allocation for the next year. This may be a symptom that not enough
consideration is being given to a review of research alternatives.
This leads to a discussion of the second point of the first main objective of
this meeting; namely, the criteria used in decision-making. Here again we
looked at two levels, the "sectoral" and the "operational," the discussion
focusing mainly on the former. There was a general consensus that agricultural
research could not be considered separately from national goa's and 'that it
was important that national leaders and- decision-makers should provide the
basis for determining the direction of research programs and for identifying
priorities within these. Brady and Andersen et al. both stressed the importance
of identifying constraints through the use of an interdisciplinary team including
both biological and social scientists.
Brady highlighted four issues relating to the removal of constraints: (1)
the relative significance of different constraints in order to identify those
whose removal cou'd be most meaningful, (2) the feasibility of constraint
removal (or the chances of success), (3) the cost of constraint removal and
its comparative advantage in relation to other strategies, and (4) the probability
that others might' do the research and the need to avoid duplication or
operating in a vacuum. This last point was taken up by a number of speakers,
and full discussion was given to the relative roles of national and international
institutes and the private sector.
The importance of the profit motive in private sector objectives was brought
out by Grobman, and there seemed to be a consensus of opinion that
international institutes were better equipped than national ones 'to undertake
longer term research with a higher element of risk than many national
institutes were prepared to take. It was also suggested that in high risk or
speculative research 'the decision to go ahead was often based on the human
resources available as much as on the potential value of the project or its
chances of success.
Schuh and others indicated that there might be some element of competition
for funding between national and international institutes because of the finite
amount of resources available. It seemed to be generally felt that these
activities could and should be complementary and that the whole justification
for the existence of international institutes was to provide a strong
backstopping service to national institutes. There seemed to be a consensus
that through outreach programs there should be a strong feedback from
national to international institutes which would ensure that the latter were
responsive to national program needs.
It was also indicated that in discussing resource allocation between different
types of institutes, the private sector could play an important role, particularly
in those countries where the markets were large enough and sufficiently well
developed for it to be able to market its products effectively. In Brazil the
new national research institute EMBRAPA is structured as a private company
and plans to operate very much along the lines of an international institute.
In addition, it will subcontract work to universities and private institutes. In
this way, it is endeavoring to combine the comparative advantages of all
three types of institutes into one organization.
Both Valderrama and Dow presented preliminary work on research resource
allocation at the operational level in their institutes and endeavored to include
equity as well as productivity goals in their development of decision-making
indexes. The state of the art in this field is obviously at a very early phase;
and even in the United States, which probably has the world's largest public
agricultural research service, the development of effective criteria for defining
national research goals is still at a very early stage. Fishel presented the
approach being adopted in the United States. This approach is a fairly simple
one and involves a great deal of subjective judgment. Pdez described a more
complex model being developed in collaboration with his colleagues for the
allocation of resources. The model is based on the premise 'that research funds
are first assigned to a preselected group of commodities and then assigned to
problem areas within each commodity. This model is still in the testing phase.
Earlier reference has been made to the specificity of the objectives of
the private sector's decision-making process. In elaborating on 'this, Grobman
placed particular stress on the importance of market research and consumer
acceptability in influencing the decision-making process. He pointed out that
at various stages of the research and development activity these marketing
influences could lead to the cancellation of a project. At many points in the
discussion on public sector research, the floor comments focused on the
problems of low adoption rate and the weakness of the "extension" process.
To some degree Ft was possible to draw a close analogy between extension
and adoption on the one hand and market research and consumer acceptability
on the other; and it would seem that there may be an evident weakness in
a great deal of public sector research which separates the carrying ou't of the
research from its actual delivery to 'the farmer. Indeed this may highlight a
fundamental weakness in the criteria for defining research priorities in many
institutions where all the emphasis is given to carrying out research on
objectives defined by people at a high level who may be oblivious of the
consumer's needs, particularly when that consumer is a small farmer. This
subject was covered in the specifically producer-oriented model by Andersen
et al., which had a strong feedback to acquaint the researchers with farmers'
It would seem that there is a lacuna in the thinking of many public sector
research institutions in that their selection criteria at the project level do not
take adequate cognisance of what the consumer wants. This does not mean
that the research consumer (i. e., the farmer) does not want a crop variety
that will triple his yield; but if this involves a four- or fivefold rise in the
cash cost of production, he may reject it in favor of a variety which gives
him only a 50 percent rise in production but involves a cash outlay only 20
percent more than his traditional costs because cash is often his most limiting
This observation appears to be particularly relevant in the light of Ruttan's
comment on changing fertilizer/crop price relationships, since the fertilizer
application has played a very significant role in the transfer of agricultural
technology in developing countries during the last decade.
Let us move on now to some comments on the third factor in this list of
initial objectives; namely, the influence of pressure groups in influencing
the decision-making process.
We really did not have much in the way of hard data to discuss on this
theme. It was suggested that donors may represent a pressure group; on the
dther hand, nobody discussed donor motivation and whether or not donors
were more efficient than research institutes in defining how resources might
be allocated. An interesting observation was made that the disciplinary
training of national planners and agricultural planners in particular might.
introduce a strong bias into the decision-making process. There may be some
validity in this remark even at the experimental station level since in most
developing countries the first agriculturalists to be sent overseas for doctoral
studies are usually cereal breeders and it is much more common to find
people with this background directing both national and international centers
than it is to find, for example, an agricultural economist. A number of
speakers stressed the need for a better dialogue between biological and social
scientists in order to achieve more effective resource allocation.
In his presentation on CIAT, Alvarez-Luna looked at the question of pressure
groups from a somewhat different angle. In the two programs that he
specifically described-namely, beans and cassava-CIAT has endeavored to
deliberately develop pressure groups at the operational level, with different
disciplinary and geographical orientations, which feed in information and
advice to its program, committee and director general who are then able to
utilize a wide range of different expertise to make their operational decisions.
In many institutions the most important pressure influencing the decision-
making process may be the effect of an existing, frequently long-standing
budgetary structure and the difficulty in making major short-term changes
in the use -of financial resources. This problem seemed to exist in aH the
organizations discussed although in the long run there did appear to be a
great deal of flexibility in both national and international centers' budgets. The
problem of pruning or even amputating long-standing programs that appeared
to serve little objective purpose was one that seemed to confront most agencies.
Finally, at this stage of the .program, we came to the question of the
quality and quantity of information which is available but which is often not
utilized for decision-making. Here again, Ruttan pinpointed the issue when
he related to the specification of the information base on which to identify the
needs for shifts in research programs. In particular he raised 'the question of
how the techniques used for conceptualization of the measurement of past
benefits from research might- be utilized for 'the analysis of benefits from
future research. This latter issue was taken up by Hertford in his paper
describing the utility of ex post methodology for ex ante analysis.
These presentations, together with the data presented by the national and
international institutes represented at the meeting, did indicate that an absence
of adequate analytical data was a major constraint on the decision-making
process. From the presentations given, it appeared that we are still quite a long
way from knowing what data we need, let alone knowing how to handle it;
and certainly from the standpoint of ex ante analysis, there is little hard
information to go on at the present time although Schuh, Castro and Andersen
et al. have developed or are attempting to develop methodologies to overcome
In trying to interpret the discussion on our first objective, we have really
covered many of the points also discussed in the second and third objectives,
which dealt with assessing the efficiency of the decision-making framework
presently used and considering whether there was a need for improved decision-
making tools. There are, however, a few supplementary points which might be
The first related to the economy of scale in resource allocation and decision-
making, not only in relation to the location specificity of biological research
but also to the type of institutions that should be carrying out that research.
This comes back to the point about the relative contribution of the public and
private sector, and there was an interesting discussion on the degree to which
the public sector should support research on commodities, particularly expor-t-
oriented ones, which tended to be produced on large commercial farms. The
history of the private sector's success in fields such as cereal and sugar cane
breeding would seem to indicate that public policymakers might need to take
a closer look at this problem in some countries.
Another issue, initially highlighted by Ruttan, related to the limitations in
our knowledge as to how to bring resources to bear on institutional innovation
and transfer. This related back again to the question of the transfer of
technology, and it was of particular interest to hear Soto's presentation
regarding the In'teramerican Development Bank's new policy of attempting
to identify their role in strengthening national agricultural research institutions
from the institutional standpoint.
Returning to the question of the efficiency of the decision-making process,
it was clear from discussion that research resources must be allocated according
to the needs of a country and within the framework of the current state of
development of that country; if there is no clearly defined development
program, the decision-making process with regard to resource allocation cannot
be properly carried out. Tt was suggested that the decision-making process at
the farmer level might need to take into account the differences between
traditional, transitional and commercial farmers and that more attention might
need to be paid to research policies specifically oriented to do this.
With regard to the actual decision-making process, as mentioned earlier,
various papers touched on the socioeconomic criteria used to identify
commodity priorities, but the workshop participants appeared to be very
reluctant to be drawn into discussion on 'the crucial issue of how decision-
making took place in terms of the commodity budgets and the identification
of priorities within a commodity budget. The impression was given that the
adequacy of the decision-making process for allocating research resources a't
the operational level in most of 'the institutions represented at the meeting was
limited and offered considerable opportunities for improvement.
In view of this, the workshop passed on fairly logically to its fourth
objective, which was to suggest how to assist the decision-makers in applied
agricultural research in terms of improving research resource allocation. We
were asked to explore the potential benefits and costs of providing (1) more
and better information and (2) analytical tools for the decision-maker. The
potential benefits from collaborative interdisciplinary research, training and
other possible action and the possible role of CIAT in such collaborative
action were also listed for discussion.
Again there is a certain amount of overlapping with the earlier objectives.
The first point dealt with the provision of more and better information which
we clearly need. This point was brought out forcibly by Soto, who indicated
that the Interamerican Development Bank's lending activities were hampered
through an inadequate information base although this situation had been worse
in the past.
A series of models were presented to us for improving resource allocation
in research. Tollini classified these into quantitative and nonquantitative, but
there was in effect a sequential range of activities from complex policy
decision-making models such as those described by Ramalho de Castro and
Schuh and by Pdez (through 'the Hertford and Fishel models) and th6
approaches of-Dow and Valderrama, to the .less complex type of analytical
tools presented by Andersen et al. and Schuh, to the totally unquantitative
approach of Brady.
We had an interesting schematic presentation from Guerra regarding the
type of information one needed 'to be able to make better judgments. This
subject was also referred to in the papers by Valderrama and Ardila,
Dow and Ampuero, Pdez, Hertford, Ramalho de Castro and Fishel. However,
we did not really get into a discussion on the potential benefits and costs
of providing a better information base, and there are some doubts as to
whether we are equipped to do 'this.
The paper by Ramalho de Castro and Schuh was particularly interesting in
the way that it highlighted the relationship between different goals of
agricultural research and commodity and equity policy. Although it was
suggested 'that the Ramalho/Schuh model was of particular relevance to Brazil,
this point was disputed; and the approach would seem to warrant further
exploration. It would also be interesting to relate some of the analysis in
this model to the data from the ex post- ex ante comparison presented by Hertford
since it appears that at the present time we know how to be wise after the
event but not before.
The final paper by Ardersen et al. proposed a model for improving the
information base for research resource allocation based on agro-economic
surveys. Again we had an extremely interesting paper describing work in
progress but as yet untested. Certainly the paper seemed a fitting conclusion
to the earlier series and indicated some concrete proposals for answering the
questions posed at this workshop. It also indicated that for this type of work,
this approach could be used effectively by an international agricultural center
in acting as the focal point for coordinating this type of activity on a .regiona.
basis, particularly through the physical and financial resources that an
institution such as CIAT possessed, which gave it a considerable comparative
advantage from the standpoint of the training of personnel.
In the final discussion session, the participants concluded that the workshop
had presented a useful exchange of experiences. The dialogue suggested that
this was a field that warranted more careful study and that periodic exchanges
of this nature would be useful. It was recommended that future workshops
should have narrower objectives and should focus on the decision-making
process at a very specific level. CIAT's training and conference resources lent
themselves well to hosting this type of meeting, and it was recommended that
CIAT should take the. initiative in follow-up activities.
STRENGTHENING NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SYSTEMS:
SOME CONCERNS OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
A. C. McClung
Present requirements for increased food production are such that the
agricultural research services of many of the developing nations must step up
performance. There are many reasons to believe that these agencies can improve
their effectiveness and rather rapidly. The environment for improvement is
better than in the past. Some of their needs are more clearly evident than they
have been previously, and steps can be identified whereby others may help
These statements outline the conclusions reached at the Bellagio VI
conference. At Bellagio V (May, 1972) attention was given to the need to
protect the unique character of the international centers, their flexibility, and
their freedom from. political constraints. Linkages between the centers and
national groups and gaps in the worldwide network were also subjects of
When Bellagio VI was being planned, a summary of the developing network
showed that the CG* system was becoming increasingly effective in dealing
with research gaps and in marshalling support for agricultural research and
development at the international level. The greatest need seemed to lie in
the area of strengthening national agencies.
The common thread running through the Bellagio VI discussions was the
need for vastly improved technologies. Three aspects of the current situation
received attention: (a) world food supply, (b) interactions between
international and national agricultural research organizations, and (c) the
status of national agencies. The consensus at Bellagio VI was that the current
food problem will cause new resources to be brought into use and that
this time some more lasting gains can be expected in terms of continued
support for the development and application of new technology.
Attitudes and reactions at the recent World Food Conference support the
view that national leaders recognize increasingly that food production must
* Consultative Group for Internat:onal Agricultural Research
receive top priority. I't was obvious that the delegations recognized that
only by increasing local production cou:d the developing nations find a
solution to their food needs.
While the international centers are a source of great satisfaction to their
founders and sponsors and a basis of hope and reassurance for many others,
several concerns have been expressed, chiefly concerning the interactions
between the centers and the national agencies. There is some feeling that the
centers' resources are being spread too thin. They are being asked to take on
too many responsibilities or projects where their particular organizational
advantages do not come into play.
The sharp focus of a multidisciplinary team on a clearly defined range of
problems is recognized as one of the reasons for the centers' success.
Ins'titution-building projects, whether they are carried out as outreach or
cooperative efforts, must be selected with care so that they will not lead the
center away from this sharp focus.
Another problem may be 'the overlapping of several centers' outreach
programs. For example, some of the small technical groups in Southeast
Asian countries have received enthusiastic overtures from international center
representatives interested in deep-water rice, corn, cassava, potatoes and
vegetables. The proposals have been accepted with appreciation but also
with some perplexity. These small countries, often with complex agricultural
patterns, are precisely the ones that must rely most heavily on the centers
for much of 'their new technology; but they may need help in putting
together a mix of technical assistance which meets their needs and is within
the reach of their resources. Also, they may urgently need help with cotton
or jute or some other crop that has no advocate from an international center.
It seems clear that the centers will be funded generously so long as they
produce results. The national research agencies are not merely going to be
funded more adequately; they are going to be required by their countries to
make unprecedented contributions in the years ahead.
Trained scientific manpower is still in short supply in most countries. Even
those that have unemployed scientists are not overstaffed so much as they
are underfinanced. As the organizations expand, the shallowness of the
manpower supply becomes evident.
Crop and animal production specialists, who can do the integrated type of
research needed to increase production, are in short supply in essentially
all the developing countries. This is a type of training that most graduate
programs do not emphasize and that many organizational charts fail even to
Intermediate and top-level management personnel, who can analyze problems,
plan and implement programs, are badly needed in all developing countries.
Funding of national programs is obviously well below the optimum. The
real question is not how much should be spent by the developing countries
under optimal conditions but rather what rate of increased expenditures can
be efficiently utilized, given the manpower restrictions and other constraints
of a specific situation.
Each country should examine its agricultural research services and make the
indicated adjustments. We might add that the surplus producers among the
developed nations are ndt immune to this need.
The developing country that wishes to upgrade its research system must
be prepared at the top level to make a long-term, sustained commitment to
the job. In making some of these determinations, national agencies may wish
to seek assistance from outside. Technical and financial assistance from
multinational and' bilateral sources should be utilized when required.
Careful planning will help to make effective use of current budgets and of
new funds which will likely become available. Such planning might include
the following steps, among others:
a) The review of existing facilities and staff resources and an evaluation
of their adequacy to meet national goals
b) The planning of national research systems of manageable proportions,
designed to serve the different farming regions of the country
c) The development of a long-term schedule for facility and manpower
development, with meaningful commitments of financial support
The individual nations must consider resource allocation for every crop or
commodity that the nation produces. They must deal with 'the whole range
of social, economic and political problems facing agriculture in their
Food production, and not research for its own sake, must be the aim of
the national agricultural agencies of 'the developing countries. Too often the
researchers have tended to be out of touch with the farmer and even with
researchers in related fields.
It is increasingly clear that the research structure must deal with more than
the various disciplines and individual commodities. It must deal with integrated
farming systems. The developing countries are faced not merely with achieving.
production increases on a nationwide basis, but with achieving increased
incomes for large numbers of small farmers.
Farmers cannot use new technology without the necessary inputs and
credit. They must also have reasonable market facilities and prices that offer
a reasonable return on their investment in new technology. All of these
factors require decisions and actions by a number of agencies, both public
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH TO THE
ACHIEVEMENT OF DEVELOPMENT GOALS *
G. E. Schuh
In addition to a brief mention of the impact of agricultural research and
public policy in the United States, the paper focuses on four issues: (1) the
importance of dealing as explicitly and as operationally as possible with
goals. We have to ask and answer the question of "research for what,"
(2) possible goals that might be considered, (3) the role social scientists
and particularly economists can play in identifying these goals, (4) the need
for economic policy and technological change to complement each other.
New technology is created as an input in the development process and not
as an end in itself. Moreover, technology has an instrumental role in attaining
a larger set of goals and objectives; its main goal is not to entertain the
Once the idea that knowledge has this instrumental role in goal attainment
is recognized, the specification of these goals becomes important. In the case
of agricultural research, this would require a specification of the goals society
or the government would have with respect to the agricultural sector.
In order to obtain any degree of precision in research priorities, it is
important for broad social goals to be translated into a more operational and
objective set of goals in terms of which individual research projects can be
evaluated. If this can be done, more focus will be provided for the research
program, a more efficient research effort will result, and there will be a more
objective means of evaluating the research in an ex post sense. The problem is
to arrive at this more operational set of objectives.
One way to proceed is to take the three fundamental goa!s specified for
the Iowa State program and see what can be made of them. In addition, I
would lik to add a fourth goal-nutrition. Therefore, we have as possible
goals (1) growth or development, (2) equity, (3) security and (4) nutrition.
The views expressed herein represent those of the author and not those of the Council of
On the basis of a discussion of research goals, three propositions are
identified. First, the nature of the objectives for 'the research program will
be determined in part by the stage of economic development. Second, the
objectives of the research program, should be related to the particular
development model the government is implementing and the specific economic
policies it uses to implement this model. Third, with an adequate
understanding of the development process and the set of policies being
pursued by the government, the goals and objectives of the research program
can be specified at a quite operational level.
Each of these three propositions provides an important analytical role for
the economist in determining research priorities. His contribution is partly
to identify goals and objectives in the light of 'the general policy matrix. If
this is done at an operational level, there should be an increase in the
efficiency with which research resources are used since they will be focused
more directly on policy objectives. In addition, a sounder basis will be laid
for evaluating the research program in an ex post context.
The equity issue is one 'that has long been neglected by both economists
and production scientists. Economists have neglected it because of the difficulty
in stating categorically whether one distribution of income is better than
another. Production scientists have neglected it because of a failure to recognize
that (a) much of 'their production technology was not uniformly adopted by
different sized farms, (b) the benefits of production technology could accrue
uniquely to one or another category of resource owners, and (c) that the ultimate
beneficiary of technical change could be the consumer rather than the farmer.
Four aspects of the equity or income distribution issue are important. The
first is the distribution of the benefits of technical change between the producer
and the consumer. The second is the functional distribution of the benefits
among the various resource owners. Third is the distribution of 'the benefits
among the various sizes of farms. Fourth is the impact on regional income
distribution within the country.
On the distribution of benefits between the consumer and- the producer,
two sets of considerations are important: (1) the relative conditions of
supply and demand and (2) economic policy. If agricultural researchers
want to benefit producers, the presumption is that they should concentrate
on products that have a high price elasticity of demand. Examples of these
are export products. If they want to benefit consumers, they should concentrate
on products that have a low price elasticity of demand. Typically these will
be food staples or necessities like rice, edible beans, wheat, etc.
On the distribution of benefits between the land owner and the laborers, it
is assumed 'that in most cases it is the land owners who will benefit at the
expense of the laborers. This is not a straightforward case, however, and much
depends on the relative elasticity of 'the supply and demand for the factors and
the elasticity of substitutions among the production factors.
Regarding the distribution of benefits among different sizes of farms, the
issues have to do with the extent to which the new production technology
is adapted to the resource endowments and other conditions of the various
size groups and the efficiency of the various economic institutions serving
The paper concludes by stressing three points. First, development needs
are not the same for each country or even for different regions within the
same country. Moreover, these needs will generally change over a period of
time; therefore, the problem of analysis to determine what research priorities
ought to be is almost never ending. For the same reasons it is difficult to
generalize among countries. The analysis does have to be largely location
specific. Because of this, there is an important need for strengthening national
Second, research priorities need to be defined in terms of the particular
development model that a country is using as a basis for policy and in terms
of the particular measures used to implement it. To fail to do this is to run
the risk of having economic policy negate the results of the research effort
arid/or to forego a potential contribution that the research effort cou!d have
Goals may well be in conflict; for example, the. attempt to attain a
higher rate of growth in the aggregate may well aggravate the equity problem.
It is worth noting that had plant scientists and social scientists worked
closely at the beginning to think about what the goals ought to have been,
what weights to attach to them, and how the goals might have been attained,
the counterproductive controversy over the Green Revolution might never
have happened. Biological and social scientists do have a responsibility to
attempt to understand each other and to work towards the common goal of
improving the well-being of the large fraction of the world's population that
CRITERIA FOR ESTABLISHING RESEARCH PRIORITIES AND SELECTING
N. C. Brady
During the past decade we have witnessed the development of a 'two-pronged
approach to agricultural research aimed at solving food production problems
in the developing world. One approach is that of the network of international
agricultural research centers; the second is that of the national research
organizations in developing countries.
The total need for new knowledge to help farmers produce more food
dwarfs the resources available to support and carry out the research needed.
Priority setting becomes paramount. There is much 'to be desired in
agricultural research priority setting, especially that of .national research
organizations. The imitation of researchers in the more developed countries
Research at universities and research institutes complements applied research
trials carried out at small outlying stations. Characteristically, these stations
are poorly staffed and equipped. Some regional research stations may have
small plant breeding programs, but their efforts are not usually coordinated
in a national crop improvement program.
There are some notable exceptions. In these cases, there is good national
research coordination. Effective long-range plans have been developed and are
being implemented. Trained researchers are effectively utilized and are training
others to take their places.
If overall national policies do not give higher priority to agricultural
research, the setting of research priorities may be meaningless. Agricultural
research cannot be considered apart from the basic human needs of society
and, perhaps more important, from the perception of those needs by national
leaders. National social goals as perceived by national leaders and decision
makers must provide a basis for determining the direction of research
programs and of the specific priorities within these programs.
Research administrators have a responsibility to help decision-makers
identify national goals relating to agriculture and, more specifically, those
relating to agricultural research. One of 'the most significant challenges is to
force national leaders to think in terms of the future. Preoccupation with
current problems forces them to think only of those research inputs which
promise immediate results. They therefore bypass or eliminate long-range
.research planning and concomitantly the setting of meaningful research
An important task of research administrators and other decision-makers is
to identify clearly the extent to which agricultural research can contribute to
the attainment of a nation's or region's social goals.
The desire for national self-sufficiency, especially with respect to food crops,
sometimes leads to the establishment of unrealistic and economically unsound
production goals. Economists, as well as biological scientists, can help identify
agricultural areas in which a given country has a comparative advantage.
To identify means of meeting social goals, agricultural research
administrators must know the limitations society imposes on the agricultural
The generalized procedure for determining appropriate resource allocation
for agricultural research assumes that overall social goals will include goals
that can be met only through the agricultural sector. In turn, agriculture's
goals will require inputs from agricultural research, as well as dther
components of this industry.
Using this general criteria, it is possible to select a series of research
alternatives and to assign them different levels of priority. Within each
alternative, specific research projects can then be prepared and pertinent
research methodologies developed. These become the research instruments to
which funds and human resources are allocated.
Four major criteria are important in setting research priorities and in
ascertaining projects to be initiated.
Relative significance of different constraints. The extent to which the removal
of a given constraint would contribute to the achievement of important
agricultural and, in turn, social goals is perhaps the most significant long-range
criterion. The relative socioeconomic significance of the constraint is of
More specific factors that must be considered are the size of populations
and of crop and land areas and the number of institutions potentially
affected by the proposed research. Also, effects on income distribution,
effective land utilization and other socially worthwhile goals should receive
Feasibility of constraint removal. The feasibility of removing, through
research, different constraints on agricultural production, processing and
marketing is an important criterion. Determination of this feasibility will depend
upon a number of factors including the nature of the constraint to be
removed, the availability of scientists sufficiently well trained to carry out
the research, and progress already made in related research areas. Limitations
in finances and their rate of delivery can adversely affect a scientist's ability
to perform, as can an inefficient procurement system.
Cost of research to remove the constraint. The required inputs in terms of
financial and human resources and of time needed to accomplish the research
are important criteria. The financial cost-benefit ratio has been used
commonly. Unfortunately, benefits from agricultural research cannot always
be quantified in economic terms.
Aside from the cost-benefit analyses, research costs alone are important
criteria. Even with high probable ultimate returns on research investment,
poor countries may not be able to afford large inputs for agricultural research.
The time requirement for research accomplishment is significant. Research
administrators must insist that some funds and manpower be allocated to
projects that have high, long-term potential even though the immediate return
probabilities may be low.
Probability that others will do the research. Each research organization tends
not to take into consideration the research capabilities of others. Developing
country organizations must consider the research which is being done and
which can be done elsewhere. Regional cooperation permits interchange of
crop and animal strains, as well as of published research results.
There are a number of other practical criteria; for example, the urgency
of the research. Administrators must prevent "urgent" problem-solving projects
from dominating research programs.
It is not difficult to identify the general procedures by which criteria and,
in turn, priorities can be determined. The difficulty arises in implementing
The setting of broad social goals is generally the function of society and
is usually accomplished by political leaders and national planners. Scientists
and science administrators should provide background information for these
decision-makers, not only to determine the social but agricultural goals as
Agricultural scientists and research administrators should be intimately
involved in setting agricultural research goals with prime responsibility for
identifying agricultural constraints, the role of research in removing these
constraints, and the specific criteria to be used in developing priorities.
Likewise, 'they should have major responsibilities for developing priorities
and in deciding resource allocation to implement 'the priority research
In most instances, research administrators use their own judgment
in setting criteria and research priorities; in others, panels advise the
administrator. In still others, panels of experts decide on the criteria to be
used and identify the priorities.
Despite the weaknesses of criteria and priority-setting procedures involving
scientists, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. While it may be
inappropriate to give the scientists the sole responsibility for criteria and
priority setting, their knowledge of the potentials of science for problem
solving must be fully exploited.
THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS APPLIED TO RESEARCH RESOURCE
ALLOCATION IN A NATIONAL INSTITUTION: THE CASE OF ICA IN COLOMBIA
J. Ardila V.
M. Valderrama Ch.
The system whereby resources are-allocated for agricultural research in
Colombia is part of a national planning process, whose line of authority
includes the National Council of Socioeconomic Policies (CONPES), the
Planning Office of the Agricultural Sector (OPSA), and the Colombian
Institute of Agriculture (ICA) itself. The information related to this system
is included in 'the annual budget proposals and in the four-year investment
plans of the aforementioned institutions.
Competition for research resources begins at the intersectorial and sectorial
levels healtht, public works, agriculture, etc.) and at the level of entities
(INCORA,* IDEMA,* ICA, etc.). Nevertheless, a't the level of entities, research
resources must also compete with resources for other programs that ICA
carries out (such as the adoption of technology and education) in addition
to operating expenses.
In the area of research alone, resources compete among different projects
(rice, beef cattle, etc.); and within these projects, the same occurs at the
activity level (breeding, crop practices, etc.).
At the intersectorial level (agriculture, public works, etc.) and at the sectorial
level (IDEMA, ICA, etc.), the criteria for allocations are primarily
associated with (1) the relative yield of investments in the socioeconomic
sectors, (2) the availability of resources, (3) allocations made in previous
years, and (4) Government objectives and goals as expressed in development
At-'the program level (research, adoption of technology, etc.) and at the
project level (rice, cotton, etc.), the criteria are prescribed by sectorial
The Colombian Institute of Agrarian Reform (INCORA) and the Institute for Agricultural
policies and Government goals, primarily in relation to an increase in productive
employment and Income, the equitable distribution of the same, improvement
in productivity and an increase in 'the production of agricultural commodities,
improvement of commodity marketing, increase and diversification of exports,
training of small farmers and the promotion of their organization, and the
adequate development and conservation of natural resources. The aforementioned
criteria are complemented by specific commodity-oriented studies and aspects
related to allocations made in previous years and results obtained in research
At the level of activities and regions, the criteria refer to (1) the degree
of urgency of the research, (2) the time needed to carry out this research,
(3) the cost of the same, (4) the possibilities and costs of its adoption, (5)
the technical feasibility of carrying it out (personnel, equipment, methods,
etc.), (6) the number of farmers, operations and areas benefited, (7) the
implications of production results (possible benefits).
Assuming that there is a high correlation between research priorities and
resource allocation, the present list of priorities at ICA is given here:
Top priority: tubers, maize and sorghum, grain legumes and annual oil-
bearing crops, vegetables and fruits, cacao, perennial oil-bearing crops, beef
and dairy cattle.
Secondary priority: cotton, rice, wheat, pasture grasses and forages, swine,
sheep and poultry.
Low priority: oats, sugar cane, barley, plantains and bananas, and tobacco.
An attempt has been made to establish a pattern of systematic measurement
that will show whether or not budget allocations are made in accordance
with budget measures.
The criteria used for resource allocation are based upon priorities
established by 'the national Government: (1) nutrition, (2) employment, (3)
income distribution, (4) the balance of payments, (5) the comparative
advantage of the crop, (6) the importance of the crop in the economy, (7)
the demand for the commodity, and (8) the needs for doing research. These
criteria are applied to each of the crops selected 'to determine the pattern
(maize, wheat, beans, soybeans, potatoes, cotton, rice, cacao, sugar cane,
barley and tobacco). The variable is quantified and then used to establish an
Ordinal Index of Priorities Op). As 'these characteristics have a different
relative importance, a table is constructed of the relative weights of these
characteristics. The index is as follows:
pi 1 P/Vi "ij
Pi is the relative weight of characteristic i so P = 2 Pi = 100, and Vi is the total
quantified value for each characteristic, and vij is the value of characteristic i of crop j.
Indices lpi are in descending order so as to compare them with the Ordinal Indices
of Budget Allocations (1a). Index (1a) was also obtained by arranging in descending
order the budget allocations for research during 1973 and the average for the years
1970 to 1974. The coefficient of the linear regression of the two indices is 0.974 fqr
1973 and 0.9688 for the period 1970-1974.
In accordance with the pattern of measurement constructed, the
aforementioned index shows that the budget allocations for the crops studied
were made in accordance with established priorities.
The authors would like to call attention to the vulnerability of the method
at the level of relative weights. The present attempt should be taken simply
as an illustration of what can be done but requires further analysis as far as
the validity of the method employed is concerned.
THE DECISION.MAKING PROCESS APPLIED TO RESEARCH RESOURCE
ALLOCATION IN A NATIONAL INSTITUTION: THE CASE OF INIAP
The National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIAP), formed in the
year 1962, is responsible for all agricultural research. Before its creation,
research work was divided among several public entities, each focusing its
work on areas of its own interest; and research was a subordinate activity.
In its initial stage, INIAP had three main objectives: (1) the formation of
technical personnel, (2) the development of an infrastructure for research,
and (3) the creation of an atmosphere of institutional stability.
In allocating the resources necessary for accomplishing its objectives, INIAP
has maintained a flexible policy, evaluating each project according to the
quality of its 'technical personnel, its results and those needs arising during
Yearly meetings for reviewing programs, as well as five-year meetings for
evaluating objectives, serve as criteria for the institute's directors to estimate
a program's needs and to adjust the assignment of human and physical
resources. Agricultural leaders, managers of agricultural institutions and
international advisors take part in these meetings.
Based on the budget allocations made by the central government, INIAP's
technical committee-formed by station directors, subdirectors and the
administrative director-meets at the beginning of the year to make the
necessary adjustments in accordance with established priorities. At least once
a year, the budget is modified, transferring resources from programs that
have surplus funds to those that have none. The reforms made by the
Technical Committee must be approved by the Administrative Counsel and the
National Budget Office. At the station level, each director has the autonomy to
distribute the resources in accordance with current needs.
There are diverse groups whose demand, for research is reflected in the
priorities allocated by INIAP. For instance, the National Planning Board asks
the institution to carry out certain programs the country needs within the
context of the National Development Plan.
Through the chambers of agriculture, agricultural centers and national
conventions, the farmers request INIAP 'to undertake research programs they
consider to be of priority or to establish additional experiment stations.
.In addition, the institutions of regional devolopment-such as the
Commission for Studying the Development of 'the Guayas River Basin
(CEDEGE), the Center for Reconverting the Manabi (CRM), the Center for
Reconverting the Austro ('CREA)-and regional projects present INIAP with
requests for research on the behavior of new varieties, crop practices and
the development of production systems designed for their zones in particular.
INIAP continually receives a great deal of pressure from farmers and
government institutions to install new experiment stations and create new
research programs; nevertheless, INIAP has been careful. not to multiply the
number of its activities before finishing the development of its present
stations and arriving at acceptable levels of productivity in existing programs.
Once this has been accomplished, the institution can expand on the basis of
socioeconomic criteria with development priorities.
INIAP is aware that the essentially subjective criteria used so far are not
entirely adequate to control resource allocation in the long run, not only
because allocations of previous years influence in one year's results, but also
because many times that allocation obeys external factors, such as the
availability of external funding and the scarcity of qualified personnel at
In order to give the decision-making process a certain degree of objectivity,
an attempt was made to include a series of socioeconomic criteria.
The first effort 'to include these criteria was a paper that used the following
PTi = E aj Wij i=1,...m; j=1..,n
PTi = Total number of points corresponding to activity i
a j = Relative weight given to criterion j
Wij Relative weight given to activity i within criterion j
n = number of criteria studied
The criteria used were the following: (1) the number of operations, (2)
the implications in the balance of payments, (3) future growth of demand,
(4) production costs,'(5)-labor, (6) social impact.
For the assignment of relative weights to the alternatives within each
criterion, these were grouped into three categories: top, secondary and low
priority. For applying weights to the different criteria, their relative objectivity,
the possibility of quantification, and their importance within the national
development plans were taken into account.
On the- basis of TNIAP's experience, it is suggested that the following
points be discussed at this and other workshops:
1. Develop a refined model for comparing alternatives and determining
priorities in research resource allocation
2. Make this general model adaptable for different cases according to the
availability of information; that is, it should not be a rigid model.
3. Explore new criteria to be used in determining priorities
4. Explore alternate criteria, which although oriented towards fulfilling
the same goals, may have better characteristics of objectivity or
5. Develop criteria permitting better assignment of relative weights for the
different alternatives within each criterion, as well as for each criterion
6. Discuss possible ways of quantifying (within the-framework of the
criteria) the importance of the different "support programs" that play
such an important role in agricultural research. For obvious reasons, it
is more difficult to include these programs as measurable alternatives
to be compared with production programs. Their priority is, in many
instances, conditioned to priorities of other programs, where they receive
different emphasis. For this reason, priorities for support programs are
determined after priorities for production programs have been defined.
7. Highlight the need for finding better ways of measuring the return
to research in such a way that cost-benefit criteria can be used more
frequently to evaluate different alternatives. I-t would be useful to
develop the tools for determining the function of the benefits of research
in different cases.
MECHANISMS FOR ALLOCATING RESOURCES IN APPLIED AGRICULTURAL
RESEARCH AT EMBRAPA IN BRAZIL
A. S. Lopes Neto
The Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (EMBRAPA) is the Ministry of
Agriculture's tool for promoting the coordination of all applied research in
At present, this is a historic moment in which both institutional and
operative transformations are radical and profound. These transformations are
being carried out throughout the existing structure at the national level, at
the same 'time as a new approach was being adopted in agricultural research.
Nevertheless, EMBRAPA's managers are trying to minimize risks and
disseminate, as far as possible, new ideas that are being introduced.
In addition to not hindering the continuity of ongoing research, it was
considered essential that the company implant two points: the effectiveness
of the operative system and the definition of a policy in regard to human
The operative system is supported by two others: the institutional system
and the planning system, which were already introduced at the national level
and together form the new approach of applied agricultural research systems
in Brazil. These two systems are explained in detail in the paper presented
during the workshop.
In addition to this, the original paper presents a historic synthesis of 'the
evolution of Brazilian agricultural research and the bases for the creation of
It should be mentioned that EMBRAPA was instituted on March 28, 1973,
and is therefore a very young enterprise. As far as decision-making is concerned,
the following basic policy tools orienting national agriculture stand out: (1)
The National Plan for Socioeconomic Development and (2) The Basic Plan for
Scientific and Technological Development.
On the basis of 'these two plans, EMBRAPA defines its course of action and
priorities at the national, regional, state and local or institutional level.
EMBRAPA's plan of work and its budget are analyzed and approved by the
National Agricultural Research, Technical Assistance and Rural Extension
Commission (COMPATER). As regards mechanisms for resource allocation at
the level of EMBRAPA, the document attempts to define the Indicative Plan of
Agricultural Research and the National Program of Agricultural Research.
During the workshop, it was put on record that EMBRAPA has limited
experience as regards mechanisms for resource allocation. In the interim, they
are in the process of defining parameters and methods on a scientific basis
in order to carry ou't this allocation.
As far as defining research priorities is concerned, three basic and closely
related factors are taken into consideration: growth, equity and reduction of
risk. In addition to these, fourteen additional criteria were considered important
in the definition of priorities and resource allocation for research. These were
the importance of the commodity, its ro!e in nutrition, price elasticity of
demand, its role in the balance of payments; the possibility of an immediate
response (margin of return), the industrial demand, price movement,
availability and use of resources, possible beneficiaries, regional equity, risks
and uncertainties, the technology employed (known and potential), the
competitive capacity in the production of technology, and the possibility of
importing and adapting technology.
At present, EMBRAPA is attempting to obtain the data necessary to be
able to utilize all the aforementioned criteria, as well as to define adequate
methodology for the evaluation and control of research activities carried out
THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS FOR RESOURCE ALLOCATION
IN PRIVATE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH
The private firm in the agribusiness sector undertakes research for the
express purpose of developing marketable products, which contribute to its
growth through added revenues.
Competition creates the need for innovation and research, but the search
for new products transcends 'this simple explanation. This continued quest in
research in the modern firm is part of its very reason for existence nowadays,
as research has become an integral part of the operational structure of the
firm and one of th& foundations of its profit expectations, which should be
considered as society's payment for 'the firm's service in carrying it out.
New product development is not a simple proposition; it entails risks.
Management is aware of it and tries to evaluate the nature and magnitude of
the risk. After quantifying it and comparing it 'to profit opportunities,
management makes the decision on an acceptable level of commitment of the
firm's resources in research and development leading to the production of
new products and processes.
Products or processes are objectives of private research; but as opposed to
results of public or institutional research, the requirement of salability of
the product or process is essential.
The product has a life cycle characterized by various phases or stages-such
as (a) introduction, (b) growth, (c) maturity, (d) saturation, and (e)
decline-during which volume of sales and profit margins evolve gradually,
reaching independent peaks and declining later. Provisions for product
improvement or substitution are figured out so as to prevent total profit
evolution from dropping off.
A premise that has been established in R & D operations in a company
is a "new product policy" which, as stated by Gregg in 1958, "should define
the limits within which the business will operate in 'the new product activity."
These policies should be so clearly defined that "they can be understood
and carried out by each company faction without constant referral to higher
Policy, however, is not a fixed body of thought and action, rather it
experiences .a constant reevaluation and adjustment to circumstances and
opportunities. It 'takes the form of determining (a) the acceptance, continuation
and duration of research commitments; (b) the allocation of research funds
on a selective target basis; (c) the levels of specialization or expansion in
product lines; (d) return factors; (e) investment factors; (f) the
maintenance of research capability in the company; and (g) the company's
After policy delineation and establishment of corporate goals has been
accomplished, research management is called upon to establish what Villers
(1964) has called the alternatives of Programmatic and Nonprogrammatic
Research. Certain corporations define the former as those that are scheduled;
and a beginning and end are established within a flexible plan of action.
Nonprogrammatic research is not scheduled.
Research management must be on the a!ert, 'collecting, collating, storing
and distributing facts and information within the organization, maintaining
an awareness of research opportunities within the research community of-
the corporation. The opposite flow of information occurs also.
As ideas for the development of new products or the improvement of old
ones appear (originating either in the R & D Division, in the Marketing or
Production Divisions, or at the level of 'top management) and as projects are
presented for evaluation and approval, an overall decision-making setup is
established; and several phases of an evolutionary process !leading to the
development of a product take place.
The problem of resource allocation to a R & D project involves considerations
of resources needed, as well as resources available, and their partial and
proportional distribution throughout the spectrum of products the project
aims to develop.
Final product performance created through R & D is subjected to
experimental tests, market tests and ultimately to consumer acceptance, which
is the final and only valid test of final performance.
It is not often realized how dependent a firm is on this final measure of
performance and acceptance of its products, which transcends intermediate
certification by public institutions. This is why the firm doing R & D work
in the agribusiness sector needs a final confirmation of acceptance by the
consumer; market tests, laboratory and plot tests can approach and predict
reactions but cannot ever really substitute this. The consumer usually finds
value in a product where others do not; conversely, he may find faults that
could not have been predicted accurately by the R &.D group, were it not for
the response and interaction of the consumer and the product during its use.
Thus, decision-making in resource allocation at the firm level is a highly
critical process, unique among the different types of research institutions
because it deals not only with the production of outputs as a result of
allocation of inputs, but is also highly sensitive to consumer response, the
feedback of consumer-product interaction to its own organization and its
future actions, to the performance of life expectation of the product, and to
the marketing and economical outlook of the firm as a whole.
THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS APPLIED TO RESOURCE ALLOCATION
IN AN INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTION:
THE CASE OF CIAT
Faced with the worldwide threat of famine, 'the need was seen in 1966 for
creating two international centers in the lowland tropics of the world-CIAT in
Colombia and IITA in Nigeria. These centers would develop research designed
to accelerate the utilization of new areas in Latin America, Africa and Asia
to produce food more efficiently and with better nutritional quality.
At the end of 1966, Roberts and Hardin drew up a document proposing the
creation of CIAT; they suggested the simultaneous initiation of two areas of
research activities: one in crops and one in beef cattle. They recommended
also that 'the center's activities should concentrate on the improvement of a
few well-selected crops, rather than working on too broad a range of species
which would lessen the effectiveness of research. The premise was established
that crops that were finally selected should have great potential for widespread
utilization in the humid lowland tropics throughout the world and should be
important for human nutrition. These criteria served as a basis for suggesting
initial areas of research.
During CIAT's formative phase, the decision-making mechanism was helpful
in developing the content of the program that should be the basis of the
center's operations; and to complement the first document presented by
Roberts and Hardin, several outstanding scientists were employed to carry out
feasibility studies on some of the areas of activity suggested in the reference
document. These studies and the original philosophy proposed for CIAT by
Roberts and Hardin served as a base for CIAT's Board of Trustees to define
the initial structure of the institution's programs.
Within the development of different programs, a series of adjustments has
been made among teams and within each multidisciplinary team in response
to the needs expressed by the external review teams, program leaders,
individual scientists, CIAT's director and the Board of Trustees itself.
Each of the programs has a similar makeup and a research component
oriented towards improving specific aspects according to well-defined
characteristics or priorities, such as yield capacities, resistance to insects and
diseases, economic aspects of production, ecological adaptation, planting and
fertilization systems, methods of insect and disease control, economic aspects
of production, and training to develop production specialists, to give graduate
students the opportunity to do field work for their theses, and to prepare
researchers for national centers. Theoretically, these components concur to
develop systems that will increase agricultural production on farms at all
levels and scientists trained for national programs.
This is just a broad outline of the organization's development and the
structure of CIAT's research programs. The rest of the work reviews the
development process for two of the program's priorities-cassava and beans-
with the purpose of describing the mechanisms used in both cases to establish
the general objectives of each program, the content and work objectives for
each of these programs, resource allocation for each research project and the
mechanisms used to make any necessary adjustments within each of these
components to accomplish their goals.
The principal objective for both programs has been to increase productivity
and production as a means of increasing the availability of food for the
inhabitants of the humid lowland tropics.
International conferences and advisory committees are two of the mechanisms
utilized for establishing priorities in 'the cassava and bean programs.
Basically, the objectives of the international conferences are (1) to study the
status of the research up to that time, (2) to identify priorities for future
research, and (3) to study possible programs of international cooperation at
the institutional level for research development and for 'the interchange of
ideas and improved materials. The participants at these conferences are
scientists highly qualified in the areas dealt with.
The main purpose of the Advisory Committee is to identify constraints, to
make a critical evaluation of the progress made in research and the value of
scientific contributions, to review the specific objectives of the research
projects within each discipline, and to suggest 'the adjustments that should
be made in the emphasis of each discipline and therefore in the assignment of
personnel and financing.
The Advisory Committees for the cassava and bean programs are
mechanisms of continuous evaluation that have ample bases for decision-
making and suggesting changes of emphasis in priorities of ongoing research.
The final decision to accept these suggestions always remains in 'the hands of
CIAT's director and the institution's research teams.
From the aforementioned descriptions, one fact stands out in common: The
decisions regarding the allocation of available resources for.research at CIAT
have been made by diverse components of the system and have been based
on diverse criteria. The Board of Trustees, directors, leaders of scientific
teams, the scientific teams themselves, as well as the individual scientists, have
in one way or another participated in this complex, but interesting and
In addition, it is evident that diverse entities outside this institution have
also been influential in the establishment of priorities and in resourceallocation.
Donor institutions, the Consultive Group for International Agricu:tural Research
(CGIAR) and its Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), the specific Advisory
Committees, the Special Study Committees, and the national institutions that
also have ideas and needs to be considered, are just a few examples of the
entities that have in one way or another influenced and contributed to the
present formation of CIAT's programs.
RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN APPLIED AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN LATIN
AMERICA: THE CASE OF IDB
J. Soto Angli
Throughout the history of' the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), the
institution has cooperated intensively in the financing of development in Latin
America, placing special emphasis on the agricultural sector of the member
countries; therefore, it has become the principal source of external funds for
the agricultural development of the region.
Acting as an international financing organism in its activities supporting
agricultural research programs, IDB attempts to (1) aid in the identification
of research priorities at national and regional levels within the agricultural
sector, (2) provide top-level experience in specific areas where some countries
are lacking, (3) provide incentives for developing new long-range programs
with multinational effects, (4) coordinate the simultaneous activities of several
national institutions that are operating independently on the analysis of similar
problems, and (5) provide sufficient funds for carrying out these programs
and placing the results of the same within the reach of the countries and
within their respective areas of action.
The process of resource allocation for this activity has not always warranted
careful analysis and has on occasion resulted in scarce resources being directed
to areas or subsectors of relative priority.
The limited resources assigned to this type of research can be observed and
measured, but it is very difficult to measure the value they generate. In
general, it can be said that the value of this type of research depends upon
(1) the satisfaction it can give individuals and society and (2) the information
it generates and that is of demand in other economic sectors.
As agricultural processes become more modern in Latin America, the demand
for agricultural research becomes greater and more effective. The validity of
this statement can be shown by the fact that (a) more commercial agriculture
causes production for on-farm, consumption to decline, in absolute as well
as relative terms; (b) those farmers who are more oriented towards
marketing their commodity obtain information on new inputs more
rapidly and at a lower cost than those who are self-sufficient; (c) the
commercialization of agriculture also implies 'that farmers become more
dependent on purchased inputs; (d) there is a better supply of complementary
agricultural inputs for new varieties in those areas where agriculture is being
carried out on a commercial scale, as opposed to those where it is still self-
In the month of May this year, the Executive Director of IDB approved a
contribution equivalent to 2 million dollars in national currencies in order to
contribute to the basic budget of the international agricultural research
centers located in Latin America. Nevertheless, in view of 'the fact that research
per se is not sufficient, the Executive Director authorized in August of this
year additional sums also equivalent to 2 million dollars in national currencies
to finance in part these training programs and the transfer of technology in
countries where the centers themselves could develop them in benefit of the
Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The bank recognizes that improvements in food crops and cattle production
depend a great deal upon the quality and quantity of services that the national
institutions of the member countries offer farmers. At the same time, the
capacity of these national agricultural research institutions for obtaining the
most productive varieties of food crops and cattle production depends to a
great extent upon the interchange of information which takes place between
national institutions within and among countries, related to research
techniques and their results.
Through many of its loans, the bank has helped to finance the training of
professionals from national agricultural research institutions, has funded
research and equipment, and has collaborated in the organization and operation
of national research and extension programs.
For the aforementioned reasons, the bank has begun its activities in this
direction. A technical aid mission visited the southern cone of Latin America in
an attempt to establish an outreach research and transfer of technology
program, mainly in regard to cereals. On the other hand, a mission formed by
international experts, as well as bank officials, visited the Central American
countries and Panama in an attempt to identify priority programs of the
national research institutions of these countries so that with nonreimbursable
technical aid, they can establish true food production packages.
In a speech given before the World Food Conference sponsored by the United
Nations in Rome, Italy, Antonio Ortiz Mena, President of IDB, stated that "in
answer to the requirements of the member countries and in view of the world's
present economic situation, the bank will orient its activities in the agricultural
field towards the following objectives in the immediate future:
1. To increase food production for international consumption and better
income levels in rural sectors by means of production activities for
2. To encourage export-oriented food production. Taking into account these
objectives, the bank will allocate its resources for technical and
financial cooperation, giving preference to the following areas:
a. Integral rural development. The bank feels i't can cooperate more
closely with member countries to improve living standards of the
b. Water and fertilizers. Considered essential components for the
success of the Green Revolution, the bank will continue stimulating
the greater utilization of multipurpose hydraulic resources.
c. Improvement of productivity and increases in agricultural
production. This should be supported by installations for storage
and marketing, installations for processing foods as well as
producing essential inputs including fertilizers, pesticides and
Finally, at the same conference, the President of IDB indicated that "the
bank would, in the coming years, give firm support to those activities related
to applied agricultural research through the international centers in Latin
America, as well as regional and national institutes."
RESOURCE ALLOCATION IN THE AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE AND
AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL PROGRAMS
W. L. Fishel
(The Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture is currently initiating action to establish effective national
agricultural research programs. This paper describes the general
organization and program structures of ARS, discusses the basic factors
which must be reflected in any resulting national program, presents a
strategy for implementing the development of national programs, and
proposes procedures for their development. Condensed here are 'those
sections of the paper dealing most directly with considerations,
principles and procedures.)
In developing national programs, there are six general areas to consider:
(1) Background considerations including diagnostics about organizational and
power relationships and the basic reasons for concern about national programs
in the first place, (2) the clarification of general concepts involved in specifying
national programs and plans, (3) the factors that distinguish one national
program from another or that specify the dimensions of any particular national
program, (4) the practical limitations or prior conditions that may have
significant effect on both national program- characteristics and development
procedures, taking care not to mistake the act of reflecting these factors for
simple expediency,, (5) the probable characteristics of such a national program
or plan, and (6) 'the probable procedures for implementing the development
of the national program and the best strategy to carry out the procedures.
National programs are unified strategies encompassing all elements in the
nation contributing to 'the achievement of certain goals. Many of the problems
in specifying national programs arise because they may be defined in several
ways. However it may be defined, the national program is in a very real.
sense a contract between society and a research agency.
This role of national programs can. be a difficult thing to get across 'to
practicing scientists and even to research managers. The best we can expect
is to understand better the process of which we are a part.
Both policymakers and scientists, stripped of all political subterfuge on
the one. hand and professional subterfuge on the other, are fundamentally
concerned with the problems of society. The difficulty in allocating research
resources arises from the difference in perspectives the policymakers and the
scientists have. The policymakers'. interest in problems is in terms of their
impact on society; scientists view the same problems in terms of cause-and-
effect relationships. Someone must help bridge this communication gap.
How do we get from one side of this gap-say, a statement by the
President that we as a nation must be assured a plentiful supply of food-to
the other side of the gap-say, a scientist's proposal to conduct photosynthesis
research on corn? The framework for the process is the program structure;
the process itself is one of communication. Program structures are
predominantly research management. devices; national programs are
predominantly administrative and policymaker devices. They are not devices of
There are two extreme points of view about how national programs and
program structures should evolve. One I call the "information demand"
principle and the other the "research management" principle.
The information demand principle of information disaggregation assumes
that there are clearly distinguishable categories of information which are
required by the greater environment within which any level of research
activity operates. The program management principle of information
aggregation may recognize 'the ideal status of the above principle conceptually,
but stresses the practical aspects of dealing with people in implementing
research programs. The former reflects social needs, while the latter reflects
considerations about the effectiveness of implementing research plans. Hence,
both viewpoints should be reflected in defining national programs.
Four areas of communication are important for national programs: (1)
within the agency to communicate with each cther in setting priorities and
the direction of major thrusts in research, (2) among agencies in the Federal
Government so the agency can more effectively relate to action agencies and
vice versa, (3) with legislators to better communicate our needs and they to
better evaluate where we are, where we are going, and what we need to get
there, (4) with various "clientele" groups in industry to better communicate
our mutual interests.
One essential feature of the national program, however it is defined, is
that it should reflect a "unified strategy" for achieving goals. It is not merely
enough to provide some kind of taxonomy of objectives and subobjectives;
there must be some plan for logical progression 'toward some goal or goals.
These new national programs will be implemented by agency personnel
while they continue to conduct an effective research program. Also, as they
are developed, the national programs must be sold to the national community
of research as a whole; therefore, some strategy for implementation is
required. At the base of the one this agency has adopted is a simple
proposition: start demonstrating real leadership and see if anyone follows
We should begin to develop national programs only in those areas in which
ARS has a legitimate right to be leaders because of the existing base of highly
competent scientists and the existence of persons having leadership qualities.
For other areas, leadership can be exerted in a catalytic role, encouraging other
organizations and persons to follow our lead in developing national programs
and leadership roles.
With respect to an internal strategy, we might start by running a pilot
study in one area only, selected on the basis that it would not tend to create
much conflict or discord either within or outside the agency.
A structure that has been proposed for developing the national programs
would consist of three components: (1) The Secretariat, (2) the Advisory
Board, and (3) the National Program document itself. The Secretariat would
be an assemblage of expert staff and clericals located at headquarters. This
group would direct the study, oversee data collection, make the final analysis,
assemble reports and communicate with the Advisory Board.
A ten-man Advisory Board would be composed of representatives of the
agency, industry and other USDA agencies, all having expertise in the subject
area of national programs. It is important that this be an advisory group and
not a task force.
The structure of the National Program document would include (1) goals
of research, (2) National Program logic, (3) delineation of research areas,
(4) background analysis, (5) research program analysis, and (6) summary
While an approach to creating national programs is suggested, the principal
guide must be one of flexibility. A strong central control of the process is
recommended, but identification of research needs and the data for analysis
must be supplied entirely by the experts.
RETURNS TO AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN COLOMBIA
I. Ardila, R. Hertford,
A. Rocha and C. Trujillo
This paper presents results of our studies of the economic returns to,
varietal improvement of rice, cotton, wheat and soybeans in Colombia. Following
recent analyses which indicated that social rates of return to public investment
in agricultural research have been exceedingly high in the United States, as
well as in Brazil and Mexico, the main hypothesis tested was that returns to
the four Colombian programs had been equal to at least 50 percent. Rates of
this magnitude, of course, would point to significant underinvestment in
agricultural research since the opportunity cost of public funds in Colombia-
really the rate of return the Government could anticipate earning on
additional public investment in the average, already active project-has been
estimated to equal 10 percent.
The methodology used to test the hypothesis of high returns was developed
by economists a long time ago and was used in all previous studies of returns
to agricultural research. It associated the benefits of a research program, with
a shift in product supply or a decrease in the costs of producing a given
output as a result of farmers adopting higher yielding, improved seeds
generated through a program of varietal improvement. Total benefits include
gains to consumers resulting from the commodity's lower price, as well as
gains to producers associated' with lower production costs. For purposes of
exposition, these total benefits for any year can be approximated by the term
kV, where k is the supply shift parameter or 'the percentage change in average,
on-farm production costs due to research and V is constant price measure
of the total value of production of the commodity under examination. This
measure of benefits is reduced each year by the price-adjusted costs of the
research program (C), and a rate of interest is then found which makes
discounted net benefits (kV C) zero valued over the relevant time period.
That rate is then taken-to be the net internal rate of return to the research
The supply shift parameter, k, was estimated as the product of two separate
variables: a difference in yields, termed the yield advantage, between two
farm plots (one being planted entirely with the improved seeds and the
other with the unimproved varieties) and the percentage of cropland planted
with improved varieties. The yield advantage was actually estimated from
regressions of yields (from on-farm, trials administered by the research
program staff) on a series of key independent variables, including the variety
of seed planted. In this way the yield effects of different seed types were not
mistaken for effects of other production factors. The second variable, the
percentage of cropland planted with improved varieties, was calculated as a
function of available data on annual sales of certified seeds.
Given this estimation procedure, larger yield advantages and/or higher
percentages of cropland planted with improved varieties are obviously
associated with larger values of k, as well as larger net benefits and higher
rates of return. Thus, differences in rates of return among programs can be
attributed directly to differences in yield advantages of improved varieties
and observed levels of use or adoption of the new seeds. The yield advantage,
of course, is technically and biologically determined, while socioeconomic
factors and the structure and organization of production are usually primary
determinants of the amount of cropland planted with improved seeds.
Within this framework, two other variables also assist in explaining
differences in calculated rates of return to individual research programs. These
are revealed by rewriting the simple definition of net benefits as V(k C/V).
It is seen that an agricultural research program which is costly in relation to
the value of the final output of the commodity worked on will be associated
with lower net benefits and a lower rate of return, other conditions being
equal. Similarly, the less important the commodity in terms of its domestic
value of production, the lower is its rate of return.
The main results of the paper are summarized in Table 1. Although iates of
return calculated for the rice and soybean research programs were found to
have exceeded 'the 50 percent level by a wide margin, it is seen that returns
to wheat improvement turned out to be rather modest and that those for
cotton research .were negligible.
The high returns to soybean research were attributed principally to the
rapid and high levels of adoption of the improved varieties. This striking
adoption pattern was, in turn, attributed to a strong demand for the product,
the geographic concentration of producers which facilitated rapid diffusion
of information about the new seeds, and the fact that soybean farmers are
among Colombia's most progressive.
Although the high returns to varietal improvement in rice were 'partly
explained by the yield advantage of the new varieties, their levels of adoption
and the overall importance of rice production, 'they were mostly credited: to
Table 1. Colombia: Selected comparative data on the rice, cotton, wreat and soybean varietal improvement
Concept Unit Rice Cotton Wheat Soybeans
Estimated net internal rates of return Percent 60-82 0 11-12 79-96
Estimated value of 'the supply shift parameter,
1971 Percent 10-16 16 17-35
Estimated yield advatnage, 1971 Percent 25-39 46 17-36
Land area planted with improved varieties,
1971 Percent 41 100 35 98
Total research costs/
value production, 1968-1971 Percent 0.5 0.1 3.0 0.1
Average yields, 1971
Colombia/United States Ratio 0.68 1.03 0.53 1.01
the fact that the rice program tapped an accumulated stock of plant-breeding
capital through collaborative agreements with two international centers (CIAT
and IRRI) and 'the World Collection of Rice maintained by the U. S. Department
of Agriculture. These sources of information, know-how and plant materials
hastened the discovery of new varieties at minimal cost to the national
Lower returns to wheat research did not reflect obvious technical failures
in plant breeding. On the contrary, the estimated yield advantage of the
improved wheat varieties was 'the highest among the programs analyzed.
However, adoption of the new varieties was laggard; from the time they were
first sold commercially in 1953 until they were planted on 25 percent of all
wheatland, fully 12 years elapsed. Furthermore, rates of adoption peaked at
50 percent in 1968 and then began a downward trend. This slow uptake of the
new seeds, their currently low levels of use, and the distressing downward trend
in recent adoption patterns were attributed to certain socioeconomic constraints
on wheat production, not the least of which were large and sustained imports of
wheat under P. L. 480, which depressed the domestic market. The high relative
costs of the program in its later life, the low value of wheat production in
Colombia, and a long "dry period" of public investments in research before
new varieties were released also forced down the estimated rate of return.
Cotton was a special case. On-farm yields increased sharply, partly as a
result of the rapid adoption of improved U. S. varieties. Yet, it was concluded
that the national research program should not be credited with these gains,
essentially because of the nature of its activities and objectives. It was designed
only to import, test locally and distribute to Colombian farmers the highest
yielding U. S. varieties. The premise was that yields of U. S. cotton grown
in Colombia would vary by type or variety; thus, a payoff was anticipated
from. an effort which identified those varieties yielding best under .local
conditions. However, careful examination of over 500 commercial field trials
performed in Colombia did not uncover significant differences in yields of the
improved U. S. varieties. Therefore, it was concluded that the main activity
of the research program was unnecessary. U. S. varieties could just as well
have been selected at random for distribution to local farmers.
AN ECONOMIC MODEL FOR ESTABLISHING PRIORITIES FOR
AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND A TEST FOR THE BRAZILIAN ECONOMY
J. P. Ramalho de Castro
G. E. Schuh
The potential contribution of technical change to agricultural development
has been recognized for some time, now. Only recently, however, has it been
fully appreciated that technical change can take alternative routes in its
resource-saving effects and 'that the particular route that it takes is
conditioned by relative factor scarcities. This immediately implies 'the concept
of an efficient path for technical change and suggests the importance of
allocating scarce research resources in such a way as to direct technical
change along this economically efficient path.
Although the notion of an efficient path for technical change (in the
resource dimension) can serve as an important basis for allocating research
resources, this in itself is not sufficient. Technical change has important
income distribution consequences. In the first place, the extent to which its
benefits accrue to the consumer or 'to the producer depends to a great
extent on the conditions of supply and demand for the product. In addition,
the extent to which the benefits that do accrue to the producer are distributed
among particular factors of production will depend on both the "direction"
which the technical change is taking (in the resource dimension) and the
conditions of supply and demand in the individual factor markets.
The study is directed to the problem of developing and testing a model
which would provide a basis for establishing priorities for agricultural
The paper is developed in four sections. The first section contains the
conceptual model. The empirical results are reported in the second section,
and the economic and policy implications of these results are discussed
in the third section. Finally a review of principal conclusions is presented.
The basic analytical model is built up within a framework that considers
the distribution of the benefits from technical change between producers
and consumers and their distribution among the factors of production, given
the producers' share of benefits. The direction- of research is postulated as
a function of relative factor prices. A two-sector general equilibrium model
is used to analyze the adjustment problem among sectors as technical change
Allocation decisions with respect to agricultural research are generally
made on a crop basis, taking into account whether and in what proportions
resources should be allocated to specific crops. The analysis of the present
study is designed in part 'to provide information which will help in decision-
making based on the assumption that the total flow of benefits expected
from a given technological change is important and that policymakers or
research managers have some notion of the extent they desire 'to benefit
producers and consumers.
The principal conclusions of the analysis are
1. The choice of products which should have priority in the research effort
will depend upon government goals:
a. If the goal is to increase income in the agricultural sector, the
products to be selected are those with a high price elasticity of
demand. An important group of such products are those with a
comparative advantage in world markets, such as cotton and
b. If the goal is to increase the income and employment of farm
labor, the choice would be the same products.
c. If the goal is to increase consumer welfare, the products to be
considered must be those with a low price elasticity of demand,
such as corn, rice, edible beans and cassava.
d. If the goal is to enlarge agriculture's, contribution to general
economic development, the choice will depend upon the prevailing
constraint at the particular time. If, for example, the constraint
is capital, the products to be selected are those which give the
greater flow of gross benefits; namely, corn and rice. On the
other hand, if the constraint is foreign exchange earnings, cotton
and sugar cane would be higher on the priority list.
2. The results suggest that the bulk of research should go to increase
land productivity. However, there is room for research on the
subfunction of labor if the research is directed 'to activities which are
not strongly labor displacing (for example, research with tractors to
improve land preparation).
3. The results obtained in estimating the parameters of the production
function with 'time series data suggest a basic change took place in
production technology in the early 1960's. Modern inputs such as
fertilizer and machinery have substituted the primary inputs which
they previously complemented.
4. Finally, the problem of adjustment in the labor market between the
agricultural and nonagricultural sectors is expected to be sizable if
research is directed to the crops with a low price elasticity of demand,
such as corn, rice, edible beans and cassava, even if the research is
basically designed to improve land productivity. On the other hand, if
research is directed to export-oriented crops, such as cotton and
sugar cane, the demand for labor will be expected to increase even if the
research is focused on land subfunction. It could also increase the
demand for labor if focused on the labor subfunction as well, as long
as the technical change that results is not strongly labor displacing.
A PROPOSED MODEL FOR IMPROVING THE INFORMATION
BASE FOR RESEARCH RESOURCE ALLOCATION
P. Pinstrup-Andersen, R. O. Diaz,
M. Infante and N. R. de Londoilo
In order to establish sound research priorities, information is needed on
expected benefits, costs and time requirements for each of the lines of
Priorities in applied agricultural research are frequently established on
the basis of very limited information on existing problems and their relative
economic importance in the production process. Because of this situation, some
research may be irrelevant 'to actual farm problems and research results may
not be adopted.
A continuous flow of information to the research manager on the potential
gains in production, productivity and risk involved in alternative research
activities, as well as the farmers' preferences with respect to new technology,
is likely to be useful to assure that new technology corresponds to the
farmers' needs and preferences, thereby accelerating adoption and increasing
Such an information flow may consist of a continuous feedback of
information from 'the farmer through the extension service to the research
institutions. Direct contact between researchers and farmers through meetings,
farm visits, etc. would be another effective vehicle for such information. To
complement these, we are suggesting a third method. This method consists
of a combination of agro-economic surveys and agrobiological experiments.
The agro-economic survey attempts to transmit to the research manager
the farm-level demand for applied agricultural research through the
establishment of a direct link between the farm and the research institute.
Attempts are made to describe certain key aspects of the structure,
performance and results of the production process, the farmer's objectives,
and the interaction among these factors. Emphasis is placed upon identifying
the principal factors limiting production and productivity and estimating the
implications of changing these factors.
A small specialized team of agronomists and economists obtain primary data
flom a panel.of farms expected to be representative of the farms for which
agrobiological research is intended. The field team makes periodic visits
(normally 3-4) to each farm throughout a complete crop cycle. About half of
the time on the farm is spent in the field, collecting data on agrobiological
issues (by direct observation), while the other half is used to interview the
Direct participation of a highly qualified muJtidisciplinary research team
in the training and field execution phases is essential to the success of the
survey. The field teams working on the ongoing CIAT agro-economic surveys
have received three to four months of presurvey training in direct contact
with the scientists from the relevant disciplines.
The agro-economic survey provides an estimate of the area affected by
each of the problems identified. Furthermore, it gives an indication of the
yield depressing effect. However, it is frequently difficult to estimate the
yield impact from survey data with a great deal of accuracy; hence controlled
experiments are carried out to help quantify the yield impact of the problems.
In addition to aggregating the data for the purpose of presenting a
description of the process, emphasis is placed on estimating the economic
loss caused by each of the agrobiological and ecological factors, such as
disease, insects, weeds, soil deficiencies and adverse rainfall conditions, and
the implications of changing these factors. Furthermore, estimation is made
of (1) production costs and labor absorption by production activity, (2) net
returns to the process for each of the principal cropping systems, (3) the
contribution of each of the principal resources to net returns and (4) the
factors influencing the farmer's decision-making in reference to the adoption
of new technology and the choice of cropping system.
Projects are currently under way in Co:ombia to field test the above
methodology for maize, cassava and beans. Although the information obtained
from these empirical studies is expected to be useful 'to Colombian national
institutions and CIAT, the primary purpose of the work is to develop and test
a simple methodology for use by national research agencies in Latin America
and elsewhere. The paper presents a few preliminary results of this work to
illustrate 'the kind of information provided by the agro-economic survey.
In addition to the expected utility of the information made available by
the agro-economic analyses, the work provides a valuable training opportunity
for young agronomists and economists interested in production.
No claims are made that the agro-economic survey is a new invention.
However, certain aspects of the work discussed above tend to distinguish it
from traditional farm surveys and hopefully make it more useful for
establishing priorities in applied agricultural research. These aspects are (1)
A considerable proportion of 'the data are obtained from direct field
observations made by agronomists previously trained for this job; (2) each
farm is visited periodically during a complete growing season; (3) the
work is multidisciplinary in nature and involves direct 'participation by
professionals from all the relevant disciplines; (4) the work is specifically
focused on providing information needed to establish research priorities.
Although the information may be useful for other purposes, such .utility is
LIST OF WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS
ALVAREZ-LUNA, EDUARDO, Associate Director General, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
AMPUERO, ENRIQUE, Director General, INIAP, Apartado 2600, Qui'to, Ecuador.
ARDILA V., JORGE, Economist, Office of Planning, ICA, Apartado A6reo 7984,
Bogota, D.E., Colombia.
BRADY, NYLE C., Director, International Rice Research Institute, IRRI, P. O.
Box 933, Manila, Philippines.
BYRNES, FRANCIS C., Leader, Training and Communication, CIAT, Cali, Co-
CHAVERRA G., HERNAN, Director of Planning, ICA, Apartado A6reo 7984,
Bogotd, D.E., Colombia.
DIAZ, RAFAEL ORLANDO, Research Associate, Economics, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
DOW, KAMAL J., Economist and Head, Technical Assistance Mission of the
University of Florida, INIAP, Apartado 2600, Quito, Ecuador.
FISHEL, WALTER LEE, Sys'tems and Computer Scientist, Program Analysis and
Coordination, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Room 209, North Building, BARC-W Beltsville, Maryland
FRANCIS, CHARLES A., Leader, Small Farm Systems Program, CIAT, Cali,
FRANKLIN, DAVID L., Systems Engineer, Leader, Biometrics Unit, CIAT, Cali,
FRANSEN, JAMES M., Agricultural Research Adviser, International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development, 1818 H. Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
GIRON, ALFREDO GUILLERMO, Economist, International Potato Center (CIP),
Apartado Postal "5969, la Molina, Lima, Peri.
GROBMAN, ALEXANDER, Director of Research and Development for Latin
America, Northrup, King & Co., Avenida Arequipa 340, Of. 601, Lima 1,
GUERRA, GUILLERMO,- Economist, Interamerican Institute for Agricultural
Sciences, Apartado A6reo 11185, Lima 14, Per6.
HERTFORD, REED,-Program Advisor, Ford Foundation, 320 East 43rd Street,
New York, NY 10017, U.S.A.
INFANTE, MARIO A., Research Associate, Economics, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
KOZUB, JACQUES J., Chief, Agricultural Economics Section, In'teramerican
Development Bank, 808 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20577, U.S.A.
LOPEZ NETO, AUGUSTO SIMOES, Technical Department of Planning Methods,
Empresa Brasi'leira de Pesquisa Agropecuaria, EMBRAPA, SBN Palacio do
Desenvolvimento, 9 Andar, Sala 908, 70.000 Brasilia, D.F., Brasil.
MARI;IO NAVAS, RAFAEL, Director General, ICA, Apartado Aereo 7984, Bo-
gota, D.E., Colombia.
MERRILL, WILLIAM C., Agricultural Economist, AID, Room 2246, N.S.
Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20253, U.S.A.
MONGE, FERNANDO, Leader, Library and Information Services, CIAT, Cali,
NESTEL, BARRY L., Associate Director, IDRC, Apartado A6reo 53016, Bogota,
NICKEL, JOHN L., Director General, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
PAEZ, GILBERTO, Head, Department of Quantitative Methods, EMBRAPA, Pa-
*lacio do Desenvolvimento, 99 Andar, Sala 908, Brasilia, D.F., Brasil.
PINSTRUP-ANDERSEN, PER, Leader, Economics Unit, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
RECA, LUCIO G., Head, Economic Research Division, Banco Ganadero Argen-
tino, Juncal 735, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
RAMALHO de CASTRO, JOSE P., Economist, Ministry of Agriculture, A.T.E., 99
Andar, 70.000 Brasilia, D.F., Brasil.
RUTTAN, VERNON W., President, Agricultural Development Council, 630 Fifth
Avenue, New York, NY 10020, U.S.A.
SCHUH, G. EDWARD, Senior Staff Economist, Council of Economic Advisors,
Old Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
SCOBIE, GRANT M., Economist, CIAT, Call, Colombia.
SOTO ANGLI, JOSE, Training Officer, Interamerican Development Bank, 808
17th Street, N.W. Of. A 384, Washington, D.C. 20577, U.S.A.
STEPPLER HOWARD A., Professor of Agronomy, McDona:d College, McGill
University, St. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec,' Canada.
TOLLINI, HELIO, Economist, Ministry of Agriculture, A.T.E. Sala 908, 70.000
Brasilia, D.F., Brazil.
TWOMEY, MICHAEL, Economist, International Potato Center (CIP) Apartado
Postal 5969, Lima, PerO.
VALDERRAMA CH., MARIO, Director, Division of Agricultural Economics, ICA,
Tibaitatd, Apartado A6reo 151123 (Ej Dorado), Bogota, D.E., Colombia.
VALDES, ALBERTO, Economist, CIAT, Cali, Colombia.
was produced by the
Editorial Services Section of the
Library and Information Services Program
Apartado A6reo 67-13
Cali, Colombia, S. A.
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