Respective Roles of the Public and Private Sectors

Examination of the roles of the public and private sectors suggests a relatively clear division in some areas, but complementarities in others (CIMMYT 2000). Multinational companies are likely to focus on the higher end of the spectrum in biotechnology research, i.e. transgenics and genomics. They are also likely to concentrate on the development of new crop varieties, or animal health and reproduction technologies where profits can be anticipated in the short term.

In contrast, the conservation of genetic resources will remain a public sector activity. Public research institutions will continue to produce breeding material for varieties adapted locally.

The prospects for public-private sector cooperation and alliances will likely vary by the level of agricultural development in individual countries, the size of the market, types of crops, and types of farmers.

The relative strengths of each provide the basis for complementarities. For example, public research institutions will continue to be an important source of germplasm for private sector development of varieties, or for the adaptation of imported varieties to local germplasm and production conditions. There are also clear complementarities between national agricultural research systems or international agricultural research centers and the private sector in research areas such as functional genomics, where the public institutions have a large knowledge base of indigenous genetic material.

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