As international agricultural research centers places greater emphasis on poverty reduction, a debate is underway whether higher priority should be given to research to “add value” to agricultural commodities through post-harvest innovations at the expense of the traditional emphasis given to agricultural production. In particular, post-harvest research is seen as a way of creating new markets for commodities that may be in surplus or are facing declining demand. In this paper we review the evidence on the economic benefits from past public investments in post-harvest research to increase value of two major food crops – potato and sweetpotato. For the review we draw upon the experiences of two research institutions: the United States public research system during the early 20th Century, and the International Potato Center (CIP) since its post-harvest research program began in 1975. Most of the evidence from the experience of these organizations strongly suggests that public sector investment in generating value-enhancing technologies for potato and sweetpotato has been characterized by a low rate of return. New product development is a particularly risky endeavor. Implications for investment by international agricultural research centers in value-enhancing agricultural research are discussed.
HOW TO CITE
Walker, T.W., Fuglie, K.O., 2005. Prospects for Enhancing Value of Crops through Public-Sector Research: Lessons from Experiences with Roots and Tubers. International Potato Center (CIP), Lima, Perú.