Public Sector Agricultural Research: Why it Matters for Sustainable Development
Agriculture is the foundation industry of all nations that undergirds all other economic sectors. Science plays a key role in improving agriculture and empowering both people and nations to rise above poverty, which is the source of much misery and conflict in the modern world. Far too many nations today are unable to feed their people and lack the economic resources to buy food. Over half the world's six billion people live under significant deprivation.
Public sector agricultural research has a critical role to play in eliminating poverty around the world. The private sector cannot fill the unique role served by public agricultural research, for several reasons. Private investment priorities are driven by market factors and may not support national interest (such as health and safety monitoring and enforcement) to the same degree as public research. In addition, governments conduct basic/applied research to spur economic growth and development without any expectation for direct public remittance.
Rising demand for food and agricultural products can be met through (1) expanding resources used in production, or (2) raising the productivity of existing resources, measured as total factor productivity (TFP) growth. National agricultural research and development (R&D) capacity is a key determinant of a country’s long-run TFP growth. China and Brazil, for example, have invested heavily in agricultural research and develoment and out-performed the world in TFP growth.
At this seminar, Ibrahim Shaqir discussed the role of public sector agricultural research and made the case for increased investment in agricultural research and development.
USDA / ARS
Mr. Shaqir is the Director of the Office of International Research Programs (OIRP) within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA). From 2001-2008, he was a Senior International Affairs Specialist in OIRP, with primary responsibility for ARS international activities serving as the staff arm of the ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs for planning and managing international aspects of ARS National Programs. Prior to that, Mr. Shaqir served as an International Affairs Specialist with responsibility for ARS international activities in the Middle East and North Africa. This included coordinating ARS programs in North Africa and Middle East and serving as a liaison with the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD). In the summer of 2007, Mr. Shaqir was selected as a Department of State Embassy Science Fellow where he served as the Acting Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) Officer for the U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv. Prior to coming to ARS, he worked at the University of Maryland College Park, and as a consultant with the Research and Scientific Exchanges Division of the USDA-Foreign Agricultural Service, managing cooperative multilateral projects in the Middle East in a variety of agricultural research areas. He received his B.S. degree from Rutgers University and his Master's from the University of Maryland. Mr. Shaqir is also a graduate of the 2011 Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executive Fellows Program. He is fluent in Arabic and Hebrew.