S&T for ACP agriculture under Cotonou Agreement
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Louk Box; Nora Steinhauer; Johanna Ulmanen. 2003. S&T for ACP agriculture under Cotonou Agreement. Knowledge for Development. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/63791
Agriculture plays a central role in the economies of most ACP countries. Although agricultural innovations are likely to increase agricultural productivity, ACP governments have given low priority to investing in Science and Technology (S&T) for agriculture. In fact, investment in agricultural research and technology development appears to have steadily declined over the 1980s and 1990s, reflecting decreasing donor interest. One may therefore wonder to what extent investment in agricultural science and technology development is surviving as a global public good.
The Cotonou Agreement and Support for S&T Under the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries can receive support for the implementation of their agricultural S&T policies. For that, an ACP government has to include S&T as a policy priority in its Country Strategy Paper, the policy framework for obtaining financial support from the EU. From a review of 52 Country Strategy Papers (2002 – 2007), S&T features strikingly low on the list of development policy priorities of ACP states. Considering the importance attached to S &T in the Libreville Declaration, issued by the Heads of State and Government of the ACP Group of States in 1997, one would have expected differently. Only a handful of countries actually refer to S&T, and of these, only five mention S&T in relation to agriculture. In all cases, the programmes to be supported play a minor role in the countries’ development efforts e.g. ‘capacity building for organizations involved in post-harvest research’ (Ghana), ‘technical education in agriculture’ (Guinea) and for ‘ongoing research and development programmes’ (Vanuatu). This subordinate role of S&T in programmes designed for obtaining support under the ACP–EU development cooperation agenda contrasts sharply with the EC’s high-profile S&T policy initiatives. For instance, in 2001, the Commission recognized the importance of Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) and developed a strategy to promote the European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), as well as regional research networks such as CORAF, ASARECA, SACCAR, CIRDES, and ICIMOD. In 2002, the Commission published a strategy document, ‘Support to ARD at sub-regional level’, which focused on support to National Agricultural Research Systems. Organizations identified to participate in and benefit from this initiative were regional networks e.g. the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and global networks e.g. the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). Another EC initiative is the ‘Competitive Grant Scheme for Agricultural Research for Development in Sub-Saharan Africa’, which identified major challenges for the Framework Programme (2002–2006) to establish an integrated European Research Area. The activity with the highest political profile was an ACP–EU Ministerial Forum on Research for Sustainable Development, held in Cape Town in July 2002, at the initiative of European Commission Research Directorate General (DG) in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Forum considered agriculture as part of general environmental issues. The Forum’s conclusions and recommendations were summarized in the Cape Town Declaration on Research for Sustainable Development and in a Plan of Action, defining strategic areas in agriculture and agro-industry. This Plan may therefore be considered as a first step in the generation of a coherent S&T policy in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement. There appears to be a total disconnect between these high-profile S&T policy initiatives by the EC and development policy priorities set by ACP countries themselves. The Commission has an instrument for S&T cooperation with ACP countries. Even though limited reference is made to S&T in the Country Strategy Papers, research programmes in agriculture could benefit from support through the Framework Programme coordinated by DG Research. The ACP–EU Ministerial Forum on Research for Sustainable Development in Cape Town therefore represents a first step towards the organization of an S&T policy dialogue within ACP countries, and to a further internationalization of European research aimed at global sustainable development. In view of the steady decline in the priority given to S&T for agricultural research among bilateral donors, multilateral agencies such as the European Commission and the World Bank are likely to become ever more important in the rescue of agricultural research and development in ACP countries. The ACP–EU Ministerial Forum in Cape Town was therefore a valiant effort of the Commission’s DG Research to resuscitate support for attracting investments in S&T for development. CTA could take the initiative and assist in rebuilding constituencies, for supporting the design and implementation of agricultural S&T policies, strategies and programmes or indeed for S&T policies in general in ACP countries and between ACP and Europe. In the process, ACP initiatives could also be linked to other international activities such as those of the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank. Maastricht, 15 November 2003