Unfolding the challenges of delegating research services for innovation and entrepreneurship in smallholder agriculture

  • Krishna Prasad Pant
  • Laxmi Prasad Pant University of Guelph
Keywords: research, funding, Nepal, competition, agriculture, interdisciplinary research

Abstract

In recent decades competitive research grants are promoted in low-income countries to delegate public provisioning of research services, often considering this approach as an effective way to create knowledge, to generate innovation, to increase aid effectiveness and to enhance overall development impacts. However, as with any other mechanisms of funding, the effectiveness of competitive research funding varies in terms of the delegation of research execution along the continuum of researchers' total freedom to funding agencies' absolute direction. A case study of decade-long Nepalese experience shows that disbursing competitive research grants to promote multi-stakeholder collaboration, as often expected under the pluralist realm, is paradoxical with a focus on either curiosity-oriented or user-inspired research, particularly in low-income countries where stakeholders are becoming critically consciousness of lasting structural inequalities. The paper concludes that there is need first to reform the grant administration procedure for underrepresented communities of scholars, and, second, to develop the capacity of grant administrators as well as researchers, practitioners and entrepreneurs to collectively address the dialectics of delegating research and other innovation services. This can be done by simplifying fund allocation procedure and diversifying the funding mechanisms, to make funds available for the following purpose: (1) curiosity-oriented agricultural science research of strategic importance; (2) applied interdisciplinary research for development problem-solving; and (3) collaborative research for innovation generation and small enterprise development.

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Published
2019-08-17