The mission of the Fund is to increase the competitiveness of the food and agriculture sectors, ensuring sustainable management of natural resources and reduction of poverty in the LAC region. The main objectives of the Fund are to:
The Fund aims to create an endowment of approximately US$200 million to generate an annual resource flow of at least US$10 million. These resources will be competitively allocated to finance high priority research projects at regional and subregional levels. The executing agencies would be international, regional, and national agricultural research entities; some research activities may include participation of the private sector in funding and/or executing projects.
The Fund will begin operations when it has received at least US$50 million in contributions. This goal is expected to be reached very soon. The Fund is being established and consolidated over a period of three years during which the IADB finances the administrative, financial, and technical services necessary for its operations. The Fund's main sources of financing are the countries of the region, and other organizations. Approximately US$150 million will come from LAC countries, and the remainder from countries and organizations based outside LAC. The 16 current member countries are jointly formulating a scale and timetable of contributions based, among other criteria, on the size of the economy and the relative significance of the agricultural sector. As the regional support consolidates, the process of obtaining contributions from outside the region is beginning.
All contributors to the Fund are members of the Board of Directors which is responsible for setting policies, establishing priorities, allocating resources to research projects, and defining the Fund's operating procedures. Members have voting rights in proportion to their contribution. Additionally, each LAC country has an equal number of "basic votes" to guarantee a balance of importance in favor of small countries.
The research activities would focus on
The specific priority areas of research to be financed by the Fund are currently being defined in the course of preparation of the Fund's first Medium Term Plan, which will cover the period 1997-99.
The primary beneficiaries of the Fund will be the countries of the region through
It is expected that the Fund will reduce the currently felt gap in the availability of sustainable medium- and long-term financing for strategic regional agricultural research activities, and increasingly shift the responsibility for financing and decision-making on regional research priorities to the countries of the region.
By focusing on funding strategic research, the Fund will complement the applied and adaptive research conducted by national institutes and strengthen the region's participation in the international research system. The Fund further seeks to increase competition between several research organizations in implementing priority research projects. In this sense it will increase the efficiency and productivity of existing national and international funding mechanisms.
The establishment of the Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean is an example of an innovative mechanism for increased and sustained funding of agricultural research. The Fund is but one of several new funding mechanisms being developed in the region that can be replicated, improved, and adapted to other regions of the world.
The long-term nature of agricultural research, and the diversity of institutions that are part of the world's agricultural technology system, create a need to develop alternative financing mechanisms--such as the LAC Fund--aimed at consolidating a truly global agricultural research system.
While increased funding for research is an important priority, the existing resources allocated to agricultural science and technology must also be better managed. New alternatives for financing agricultural research should not only add resources but also serve as mechanisms to improve focus and accountability of research programs, to promote the effective use of scarce resources, and to foster collaboration at national, regional and international levels.
More information on the Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology is available from the Technical-Administrative Secretariat at the Inter-American Development Bank, 1300 New York Avenue, NW, Stop W0500. Washington, DC 20577. Tel.: (202) 623-3876. Fax: (202) 623-3968. E-mail: FONDOREG@IADB.ORG.