Let’s admit an unfortunate truth: agricultural research in most of the world is based on old models that no longer serve us well in the twenty-first century as arable land diminishes, populations increase, and climate is changing. A dramatically new vision is needed in order to remake agricultural research, perhaps radically, to address the challenges of the world we find ourselves in today. Here is an attempt to begin to develop such a vision.
(1) We must learn to value foundational (basic) and applied research equally.
(2) We need much stronger Foundational Research than currently exists
(3) Applied Science must be reorganized around major concepts
(4) To repeat and extend the first point above (because it is so important), success requires that we foster development of new cultures and new communities that are coincident with needs, not tradition. The needs for new communities are many and varied.
To achieve this vision will require us to let go of habits and preconceived notions in order to work toward understanding the diverse cultures and communities that comprise research, extension, and industry and to find new ways of bringing them together productively and creatively in order to create synergies and achieve efficiencies. The specific ways for achieving this vision will be many and varied, and will require the creative efforts of scientists, engineers, funders, industry participants, and policymakers everywhere.
Where should we start? Three principal areas need to be dramatically reorganized: the ways that we fund research, the ways that organize our research institutions, and the ways that we define success and evaluate progress toward the goals above.
Funding priorities need to be dramatically refocused."