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K-State Today

September 7, 2021

Prasad highlights innovation investment report on sustainable agriculture intensification

Submitted by Layne Wilson

The challenge of producing abundant, nutritious food in many areas around the globe is increasing, especially under the threat of climate change and diminishing natural resources. We must not only find ways to increase food production from existing farmland, but also make a positive impact on our environment.

A new innovation investment study from the Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification, or CoSAI, states that only 7% of current innovation spending in agricultural research actually targets environmental outcomes. The study "Funding Agricultural Innovation for the Global South: Does it Promote Sustainable Agricultural Intensification?" was published by CoSAI on Aug. 20.

P.V. Vara Prasad, university distinguished professor and director of the Feed the Future Sustainable Intensification Innovation Lab at K-State is one of the CoSAI commissioners and chaired this new innovation investment study developed by Dalberg Asia.

"More investments in our agri-food systems, specifically focused on developing innovations and technologies to improve productivity, increase efficiency, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and support sustainability and climate targets are needed," Prasad said. "Innovations in both biophysical and social sciences are needed to successfully take on the key global challenges of food security, malnutrition and climate action to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030."

This study provides baseline information about investments in agricultural innovations, specifically related to sustainable agricultural intensification. The report produces global estimates for funding during the past decade, 2010-2019, in research and innovation for agricultural systems in the developing countries in the Global South. It also shows where current funding is coming from, who is using it, where it is used and how it is being used.

Additional key findings from the innovation investment study include that only roughly 4.5% of the Global South's total agricultural output is spent on agricultural innovation, and that most innovation spending is focused on improving productivity and economic outcomes rather than environmental or social aspects. The national governments are the biggest investors for agricultural innovations, followed by private sector and development partners. The study shows there needs to be more transparency on funding and spends on agricultural research and development to make the data accessible.

"The findings of this innovation investment study are extremely useful to have as we work to improve livelihoods of people and to overcome the challenge of food security across the globe," said Chuck Rice, university distinguished professor at K-State and chair of the board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. "This study highlights the critical need for new investments specifically targeted toward sustainable and integrated agri-food systems and climate-smart agriculture."

Raj Khosla, professor and head of the agronomy department in the College of Agriculture at K-State said, "Having Vara Prasad as part of the CoSAI and his role as chair of this innovation investment study, reflects upon scale and magnitude of our faculty engagement in global leadership and their contributions to research, education and outreach activities focused on sustainable agricultural intensification."

For more information on this study, read the brief report and Prasad's blog post

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