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ASTI Data in the Context of Agricultural S&T Policy

Policymakers are increasingly recognizing that higher levels of investment in agricultural research is a key factor in increasing agricultural production to the levels required to feed the world’s growing population. Furthermore, additional investments in agricultural research are required to address emerging challenges, such as increasing weather variability, adaptation to climate change, water scarcity, and increased price volatility in global markets. Despite this growing attention to the agricultural sector and the role of agricultural research, many low- and middle-income countries continue to struggle with serious and deepening capacity and funding constraints in their agricultural research and higher education systems.

Quantitative information is fundamental to understanding the contribution of agricultural science and technology (S&T) to agricultural growth. Indicators derived from such information allow the performance, inputs, and outcomes of agricultural S&T systems to be measured, monitored, and benchmarked. ASTI fulfils a unique role in providing the information needed to promote an understanding of the current status and direction of national agricultural research systems in developing countries.

In a framework of policy change, these types of information provide a foundation for developing policy options. However, successful accumulation and use of data and statistics require a system that ensures both the accessibility of information and sufficient capacity for its collection and use. In the cycle of policymaking, policy analysis uses this information to advance both understanding and assessment of various policy options. In this way, data and policy analysis also provides the basis for informed decisionmaking and advocacy of policy options. Integral to this process are strong communication links between networks of policy researchers and policymakers to ensure that the relevant information is disseminated and feedback received. Data, statistics, and analysis can also inform policy implementation, monitoring, and evaluation by providing a baseline for measuring performance. The final outcomes and evaluation of new policies then inform the next round of priority-setting, which in turn influences the development of future data collection and policy analysis.