Agriculture and industry needs more R&D [Archives:2002/42/Business & Economy]

October 14 2002

Developing Yemen’s program for scientific research and development is an important way to increase agricultural and industrial production, says an expert in the field.
But such research and development (R&D) needs more attention and funding, notes Dr. Mustafa Bahran, chairman of the SNCNE, the science and technology advisor to the president.
Some economic studies report that creating scientific research institutions would help increase the volume of agricultural and industrial production by up to 50 per cent, and consequently increase exports by up to 30 per cent annually.
Both agricultural and industrial production processes need to give some of their resources for the development of R&D.
This effort includes defining production rates commensurate to the rate of domestic consumption, and measuring surplus volumes by using well-studied marketing methods and getting proceeds in hard currency.
Agricultural production in Yemen is still dependent on rainfall seasons, and industry in accordance to the short-term plans of national industries.
Banks financial resources in Yemen come from deposits rather than from investments in scientific research. This is confirmed by the weakness of locally-produced goods in competition with imported commodities.
Also, Yemeni banks do not develop their work though personal loans to enable producers and consumers to handle modern production equipment, and establishing the knowledge-based economy. The only organization in Yemen that works in scientific research is the State National Commission for Nuclear Energy (SNCNE). This commission is active in many areas, the most important is linking the use of nuclear energy to boost agricultural and industrial production.
Established in 1996 to conduct R&D, the organization and its work has kicked into high gear in the last 18 months, said Bahran.
The organization has a long way to go to achieve its goals, especially the goal of increasing national production and research. For this reason the private sector should help in R&D of new products and improve the quality of existing goods.
The state’s efforts seem to be able to solve problems of the private sector under the policy of the free market, he said.
Dr Bahran said Yemen has the knowledge potential, and money, but it’s not being put to R&D.
Banks should support new companies specializing in communications and internet, and encourage these companies to invest in the R&D needed by industrial and agricultural groups.
With the government’s moves to privatization of public sector institutions, it will be more important to encouraging scientific research.
Giving more money to R&D will raise the level of agricultural and industrial production, help prepare feasibility studies for investment projects, increase investment activities, and link the Yemeni market to foreign markets.