Agricultural Research Investments in Sub-saharan Africa - Recent Trends
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CTA. 2004. Agricultural Research Investments in Sub-saharan Africa - Recent Trends. Knowledge for Development. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
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This article reviews the major investment and institutional trends in agricultural research in sub-Saharan African (SSA) since the early1970s, drawing directly on a new set of data for the 1990s developed through a comprehensive survey conducted in 27 cou
Public Research (2) For a sample of 27 SSA countries, the total number of agricultural research staff employed in the public sector increased threefold during 1971-2001, but the majority of this growth took place during the 1970s and 1980s (Figure 1). Along with the increase in numbers, the level of formal training also improved considerably and then declined. In 1971, 75 percent of the researchers had postgraduate-level (MSc or PhD) training compared to only 45 percent in 1981. Real public agricultural R&D spending for the 27-country sample grew more slowly from $0.7 billion in 1971 to $1.1 billion in 2000 (in 1993 international prices) (3)? or equivalent to an average rate of 1.4 percent per year. Although expenditure growth appears to have been more evenly distributed over time than growth in numbers of researchers, the annual growth rate diminished from 2.0 percent in the 1970s to only 0.8 percent in the 1990s. Excluding Nigeria and South Africa?the two countries with the highest expenditures on agricultural R&D?annual growth in total spending even decreased during the 1990s. Figure 1-Trends in Agricultural Research Staff, Spending, and Spending per Researcher, 1971-2000 (4) These regional averages mask considerable differences among countries. About half the sample countries experienced negative annual growth in total agricultural R&D spending during the 1990s, which were often the result of political unrest or the completion of large donor-funded projects. For example, rates in Burundi, the Republic of Congo, and Sudan fell below the negative 10 percent mark during that period, a very alarming trend. The intensity of investment?that is, spending on agricultural R&D relative to the value of agricultural output?has deteriorated over the years. In 2000, Africa invested $0.70 for every $100 of agricultural output?lower than the 1981 level of $0.95. Ratios ranged from 0.20 percent or lower in the Gambia, Niger, and Sudan to over 3.00 percent in Botswana, Mauritius, and South Africa; the latter being higher than the intensity ratios in many Western countries. Funding of Research Agricultural research in SSA, as in many developing-country regions, became increasingly dependent on donor funding toward 2000; yet the share of donor contributions in total funding declined in the last half of the 1990s?at least for the 23 countries for which time series data were available (Figure 2). Such declines resulted in part from the termination of a large number of World Bank projects in support of agricultural R&D or the agricultural sector at large. Donor contributions, including World Bank loans, accounted for an average of 35 percent of funding to principal agricultural research agencies in 2000. This average, however, masks great variation across countries. In 2000, donor funding accounted for more than half of the agricultural R&D funding in 7 of the 23 sample countries. In contrast, donor funding was quite insignificant in Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, and Sudan (less than 5 percent). Figure 2?Sources of Funding by Country, 1995/96 and 2000 (5) Private Sector Research Agricultural research conducted by the private sector has grown in recent years, especially in the developed world. Nevertheless, the role of the private sector in the developing world is still small and many of the private-sector activities in developing countries focus solely on the provision of input technologies or technological services for agricultural production, with most of these technologies being produced in the developed world. In 2000, private firms in the 27-country sample invested $26 million in agricultural R&D, representing only 2 percent of total public and private research investments that year. South Africa accounted for close to two-thirds (with $16 million) of agricultural research conducted by the private sector in SSA. The private sector does, however, play a stronger role in funding agricultural research, as opposed to actually conducting the research. Many companies contract government and higher-education agencies to perform research on their behalf. For reasons of confidentiality, many private companies are reluctant to provide information on their resources and investments in agricultural research. In addition, private research activities in SSA are often small scale and ad hoc, making it difficult to capture accurate information. If these omitted private-sector activities in SSA were included, the private-sector share in overall agricultural research investments would be slightly higher. Conclusion Increasing agricultural research capacity is seen as an important factor in building food security and economic stability in Africa. Furthermore, new and better-targeted technologies are essential to this process, and a well-developed and well-supported agricultural research system is a prerequisite not only for the design of these technologies but also for their dissemination and adoption. But despite the mass of evidence pointing to agricultural development as a priority, growth in agricultural research and development (R&D) investments in SSA has stagnated over the past two decades while funding has become increasingly scarce, irregular, and donor-dependent. This has often been combined with poor Science & Technology policies and inefficient and ineffective research management. Institutional reforms and sound S&T policies are needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural research in Africa. Donor-supported projects have helped to build capacity in many countries, but these advances will quickly be eroded with the withdrawal of donor funding if other sources are not consolidated and further developed. July 2004 Nienke Beintema (email@example.com) is Head, Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative under the ISNAR division of IFPRI. The ASTI initiative comprises a network of national, regional, and international agricultural R&D agencies compiles, processes, and makes available internationally comparable data on institutional developments and investments in public and private agricultural R&D (see www.asti.cgiar.org for more information). This article is a summary of Investing in Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Research: Recent Trends by N.M. Beintema and G.J. Stads. IFPRI 2020 Conference Brief No. 8. 2004. Notes: (1) These 27 countries accounted for about three quarters of total sub-Saharan African (i.e., 48 countries) agricultural GDP in 2001. (2) We defined public agricultural research to include government agencies, higher-education agencies, and nonprofit institutions (thereby excluding private for-profit enterprises). (3) Expenditures are in international dollars that is by converting local currency units to US dollar equivalents using purchasing power parities (PPPs). PPPs are synthetic exchange rates used to reflect the purchasing power of currencies, typically comparing prices among a broader basket of goods and services than do conventional exchange rates. (4) Source : Calculated from Beintema, N.M. and G.J. Stads. 2004. Investing in Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Research: Recent Trends. IFPRI 2020 Conference Brief No. 8. Washington, D.C.: IFPRI. (5) Source : Calculated from Beintema, N.M. and G.J. Stads. 2004. Investing in Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Research: Recent Trends. IFPRI 2020 Conference Brief No. 8. Washington, D.C.: IFPRI. Notes : Funding sources are for the main agricultural research agencies only. Combined, these agencies accounted for 76 percent of total spending for the 23-country sample in 2000. The total for 1995/96 excludes Benin, Côte d´Ivoire, and Gabon. Data for West Africa, with the exception of Nigeria, are for 2001.