African countries must double investment in agricultural R&D, finds study

The report analyses trends in investments and human resource capacity in African agriculture system

By Priyanka Singh
Published: Thursday 27 November 2014

Image courtesy IFPRI African countries south of the Sahara needs to invest double in agricultural research and development, suggests a new report by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). The recommendations will help the countries achieve United Nations and African Union’s target of investing 1 per cent of agricultural GDP in public agricultural R&D.

The report titled Taking Stock of National Agricultural R&D Capacity in Africa South of the Sahara,  is being presented at the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in Johannesburg during a three-day conference started Thursday.  The conference focuses on the need of science and research in agriculture to get better results. The report is produced by the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) program led by IFPRI.

Poor infrastructure for research to high donor dependency, the report highlights additional challenges to national agricultural research systems. The report found out that although female participation in agricultural R&D has increased in recent years, women have less influence on decision making and policy because men continue to dominate in senior research and management positions. Apart from this, low salary and poor conditions of service have prevented many agricultural research institutions from training, and retaining staff. In addition, a very large share of senior researchers are nearing retirement.

Lack of funds for research also remains a problem for many countries. They are dependent on either donors or development bank funding to support the day-to-day costs of operating research programmes and developing and maintaining R&D infrastructure. In addition to increasing funding volatility, high dependence on donor funding has the potential to skew national research priorities.

“Addressing these R&D challenges will be critical to enhancing future agricultural productivity. The implementation of the Science Agenda is extremely important for the development of African agriculture,” said Gert-Jan Stads, one of the authors of the report.

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