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Changing paradigms in agricultural research Significance of end-user involvement

In general, developments at new frontiers of science and technology exert
significant impacts on the way the research is thought about and executed.
Agricultural R&D is no exception to this. The discovery of the double-helical model
of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953 and the later developments in the field of
biotechnology made agricultural research more knowledge- and capital-intensive.
Furthermore, with the liberalization of economies the world over, the private sector
emerged as a key player in agricultural research. While public sector institutions
continue to concentrate on meeting ever increasing food demands, the private sector
tends to focus on crops that would generate profitable returns, thereby raising
concerns about meeting the needs of small and marginal farmers. This paper reviews
various paradigms that are evolving in agricultural research and answers the
following questions: (a) what are the different paradigms in agricultural research;
(b) how are these paradigms affecting the priorities for research; (c) what is the
impact of such shifts in priorities in agriculture on the variety of end-users; and (d)
are there any institutional arrangements to cater for the needs of the small and
resource-poor farmers whose needs are bypassed by these shifts in priorities?
Following this, the innovative model of the Andhra Pradesh Netherlands Biotechnology Programme that aims to produce need-based technologies is discussed.

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