7 Dec 2009

Productivity taskforce goals questioned

5:47 am on 7 December 2009

The head of the Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science is questioning whether the authors of a productivity taskforce report have got their priorities right when it comes to spending on research and development.

The 2025 Taskforce makes 35 recommendations aimed at closing the income gap with Australia.

The report says there is not a compelling case for more Government spending in research and development, beyond what it calls "basic research", that may not lead directly to marketable products.

But Institute of Agricultural & Horticultural Science president, Professor Jon Hickford says the report fails to identify the economic benefit of investing more in agricultural and horticultural research.

He says Treasury papers show the return on investment in agricultural science since 1926 is 17% per annum.

Professor Hickford says it's not possible to get huge leaps forward, but is important to get incremental gains in research.

He says as New Zealand is a pastoral-based economy the R and D spending should be prioritised to this area.

Professor Hickford says this sort of spending, by the Government as well as the private sector, should be increased or sustained at current levels.