Encouraging Private Sector Research for Tropical Agriculture

Alix Peterson Zwane and Michael Kremer
Michael Kremer
Michael Kremer Gates Professor of Developing Societies - Department of Economics at Harvard University

January 1, 2006


Agricultural needs in poor tropical countries differ significantly from those in temperate, rich countries. Yet little agricultural research is performed on products for the tropics. Private research is particularly concentrated in rich countries. This is a result of significant failures in the market for research and development (R&D), in particular, the difficulty of preventing the resale of seed in developing countries. To encourage private R&D in tropical agriculture, traditional funding of research may be usefully supplemented by a commitment to reward developers of specific new agricultural technologies. Rewards tied to adoption may be especially useful in increasing up-take. An illustration of how a commitment to reward developers of new agricultural technologies might work is provided.