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Biotechnology and Agricultural Development in Low Income Countries: Case Material from the Research Into Use Programme

Clark, N   Frost, A   Maudlin, I   Ward, A

March 2012

Innogen working paper no. 101

Open / download (PDF, 351KB)

Introduction:

This working paper summarises three projects funded by the DFID Research into Use programme (RIU) over the period 2009-2011. Each of them can be seen as an experiment in putting previously funded natural resource (RNRRS)[1] research into productive use. Together they indicate how complex is the reality of capitalising productively on scientific research even where this has been commissioned for a useful purpose, in this case poverty alleviation in low-income countries (LICs). The projects (called “best bets” due to their speculative nature) deal with Armyworm (Kenya and Tanzania), striga control/seed priming (Kenya) and BCAs (bio control agents; Ghana). All of them have been influenced by biological research and all have a significant private sector dimension. The projects were funded through a call for proposals that specified consortia involving private sector participation designed to help ensure project sustainability once donor funding has ceased. Applicants were asked to present proposals to a panel consisting of LIC venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and scientists somewhat akin to that used in the popular “Dragons Den” BBC television programme. The paper’s sources are material from a series of RIU discussion papers combined with interviews in East Africa over the period November – December 2012. Section 2 gives brief details of the RIU, its rationale and inception. Section 3 summarises the rationale for the interventions, the RNRRS projects[2] that provided their scientific base, their co-operating organisations, objectives, progress and issues arising over the period. The final section provides conclusions and implications for policy.

[1] The Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy under which the Central Research Department of DFID funded some £200 million worth of developmental research mainly in UK centres of excellence

[2] The projects were part of a sub-programme of the RIU, called the “Best Bets”. These were projects designed to build sustainable private sector capacity in LICs.

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