Making competitive grants programs of the national agricultural research systems work : learning from the Brazilian experience
Category: Food and Agriculture
In the last few years there has been increasing interest in establishing competitive grants programs in agricultural research in developing countries. In donor funded projects, these programs are often seen as a complement to the ongoing research programs, undertaken through regular long term research funding, but which often pose the risk of being viewed as a panacea, and a substitute for regular long term research funding. Their design and implementation needs to reflect understanding of a complexity of factors needed to make them work effectively. The design of Brazil ' s competitive grants program in agriculture is drawing extensively on international and domestic experience. This paper briefly reviews the recent Brazilian experience, and offers its full operational manual for review, and possible wider adaptation as appropriate in other countries. The competitive system established and implemented by EMBRAPA (Empresa Brasileira de Pesquisa Agropecu?ria) actively seeks to increase competitiveness, and partnerships among participating institutions. Access to grant funding by the entire national agricultural research system, through the process of a competitive system, will enhance the quality of project proposals, and support the improvement of research results and better linkages of research to felt demands. Through partnerships, the Brazil Agricultural Technology Development Project expects to capitalize on the complementarity of Brazilian researchers with those at the global level, and their corresponding institutions. At the national level, a much better and efficient use of available infrastructure (labs, etc.) should be attained.