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close this bookTowards Creating a Poverty-Free World (UNESCO, 1995, 12 p.)
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View the documentHunger is not Caused by Shortage of Food
View the documentResearch Agenda Narrowly Defined
View the documentNo Social Vision in our Research Institutions
View the documentScientists Prefer to Speak in their Own Language
View the documentBusy with Projects and Budgets
View the documentRaising Basic Questions with FAO
View the documentTwo Areas where FAO Has Failed
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View the documentAgricultural Credit system Just About Collapsed
View the documentState-Owned Agencies Hardly serve the Farmer
View the documentAn Alternative Vision of the World
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Research Agenda Narrowly Defined

As a member of the IRRI board I tried to bring back these dimensions. I don’t think I earned many friends by doing that. I wanted to impress on the board that IRRI is a research institution to study rice as “Food” not as a “crop”. A crop-researcher can carry on his research on a crop in any direction and continue it without any limit. A researcher will continue to find research more and more “interesting” as he proceeds. But a food-researcher studies crops within a given socio-economic framework, looking for answers to the questions faced/raised by the society. “Being interested” is no guide for him to embark on a research project. For him research has to be meaningful in the socio-economic context.

The world has recognized without hesitation the contribution made by agricultural scientists in pushing the frontier of agricultural production. A large number of international and national agricultural research institutions have participated in this frantic effort. But their successes in the production side of food have not been matched on the demand side. A crop scientist can say, “Sorry, that’s not part of my assignment,” but a food scientist cannot say that, Similarly a food research institute cannot shrug off its responsibilities for this failure.

One of my suspicions is that by defining the agenda of the international and national research institutions too narrowly we have missed the chance of removing hunger from the world.

Let me explain how my suspicions came about.