Re-searching agriculture in South Asia

Drawing on a wealth of evidence and new data accessed under the Indian Right to Information Act, the author of this excellent and timely report clearly shows how an emerging web of powerful actors and processes is now redefining public research in South Asia. Shalini Bhutani has carefully analysed the forces and factors that are re-shaping and privatising public agricultural research in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These factors act as ‘determinants of innovation’: social, cultural, economical and/or political factors that are now redefining the governance of public research, the development of technologies, models of agricultural production, and the dynamics of food systems in South Asia. They are all carefully scrutinised in this paper along with their functions and their mutual relationships on a national, sectoral or regional scale. The author also shows how the governance of public sector agricultural research is undergoing rapid change in South Asia under the influence of global economic forces such as the new rules of global finance, free trade, intellectual property rights, new laws, as well as consolidations and strategic alliances in the agricultural input industry and the structural power of multinational food corporations. National and international law are key drivers of change in this context.