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Agricultural research reduces poverty: Byerlee delivers second Havener Memorial Lecture

October 12, 2007

1Derek Byerlee, Director for the World Bank’s new World Development Report, told an attentive audience in the auditorium at El Batán on Tuesday, 9 October, that there were strong drivers for agricultural research for the poor in developing countries, but that changes in the balance of funding in CGIAR centers like CIMMYT, away from unrestricted toward more special project-oriented money, threatened essential long-term research to benefit the poor.

Byerlee was presenting the second annual Robert D Havener memorial lecture, one of a series sponsored by the research centers of the CGIAR in which Havener had played a major role. Byerlee focused his talk on what he called “Drivers of Demand for Agricultural Research and Development.” He pointed out that growth in the agriculture sector benefits the poorest at more than double the rate that growth in other non-agriculture sectors does and specifically pointed out progress in Ghana, China, and India as examples. He said that investment in agricultural research and development had an impact on reducing global poverty. He also warned that in the future the strong demands from the rapidly growing biofuel sector, climate change, and increasing land degradation and water scarcity were going to shape the agricultural research agenda.

Bob Havener, CIMMYT Director General from 1978- 1985, died in August, 2005. The lecture at CIMMYT was attended by his widow, Liz and his stepdaughter, Emily Sprague. The World Development Report will be released on Friday, 19 October. A video of the lecture will be sent to regional locations.


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