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Investing in Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Research: Recent Trends

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Authors:
Beintema, Nienke; Stads, Gert-Jan

Year:
2004

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Agricultural research capacity is 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 wellsupported agricultural research system is a prerequisite not only for the design of these technologies but also for their dissemination and adoption.

In 2000, R&D spending in SSA totaled nearly $1.5 billion (in 1993 international dollars), but funding has become increasingly scarce, irregular, and donor-dependent.These circumstances are often accompanied by poor national science and technology (S&T) policies and inefficient and ineffective agricultural research  management. Institutional reforms and sound S&T policies are needed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural research in Africa.

Donorsupported 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.While there is no universally recognized standard for the optimal size of agricultural R&D investments in Africa, a recent report of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) recommends doubling Africa’s agricultural research intensity ratio (agricultural R&D investments as a percentage of agricultural GDP) to 1.5 by 2015. In view of the low, and often declining, level of agricultural R&D investments in SSA, both in real terms and as a ratio of agricultural output, attaining this goal will be extremely challenging.

Sub-Saharan African Agricultural Research: Recent Investment Trends

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Beintema, Nienke; Stads, Gert-Jan

Year:
2004

Publisher

Publication category

Overview publications

Public agricultural research spending in Africa increased rapidly during the 1960s. Since then, growth has stalled for the region as a whole. Many individual countries, however, actually experienced a decline in agricultural R&D expenditures during the 1990s when funding became increasingly scarce, irregular and donordependent.
In addition, the national science and technology (S&T) policies of many African countries are often poorly formulated. Given the continued withdrawal of donor funding, other sources will need to be consolidated and further developed in order to prevent a rapid erosion of agricultural R&D capacity. This should be accompanied by institutional reforms and sound S&T policies, both of which are prerequisites for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the region’s agricultural research.

So far, private sector research has not stepped in to fill the gap. Reliable estimates on private research spending are hard to come by, but the best (and most recent) evidence suggests that in 2000 an estimated $26 million of the $1.1 billion of agricultural R&D spending in 1993 international dollars in a 27-country sample was spent by private firms, representing only 2% of total (public and private) research investments that year. Most of the private technologies used throughout the region are supposedly based on research conducted elsewhere.

Technical change is a major factor in assuring food security and economic stability in Africa. New and bettertargeted technologies are essential to reach technical change, 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. Evidently agricultural R&D has become a priority for many African governments and donor agencies. The recent IAC (2004) report recommends a substantial funding increase for African agricultural research by 2015 at an average rate of 10% per year. In view of the low, and often declining, level of agricultural R&D investments in Africa, as evidenced in this article, attaining this goal will be extremely challenging.

Agricultural R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Era of Stagnation

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Authors:
Beintema, nienke; Stads, Gert-Jan

Year:
2006

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Public agricultural research staff and spending in Africa increased rapidly during the 1960s. Since then, expenditure growth has stalled for the region as a whole. By  2000, R&D spending in Africa had reached nearly $1.5 billion (in 1993 international dollars). Many individual countries, however, actually experienced a decline in agricultural R&D expenditures during the 1990s when funding became increasingly scarce, irregular, and donor-dependent. Large differences can be observed between African countries. For example, about half of the 27 sample countries experienced negative annual growth in agricultural R&D spending—some in excess of 10 percent per year. In contrast, a handful of countries experienced growth of 5 percent or more per year. Other key indicators show similar discrepancies among African countries.

Total donor funding in support of agricultural R&D has declined since the mid- 1990s, often as a result of the closure of large projects financed by the World Bank, USAID, and FAO. Despite waning financial support to public agricultural R&D, the private sector has yet to make a significant contribution. Reliable estimates on private research spending are hard to estimate, but the best (and most recent) evidence suggests that, in 2000, the private sector accounted for only 2 percent of total (public and private) research investments in Africa. Reportedly, most of the private technologies in use throughout the region are based on research conducted elsewhere.

One positive development is the renewed interest in regional and subregional approaches to agricultural research in Africa. Through such regional networks,  technological innovations made in one country can quickly impact research in other countries with similar agroclimatic conditions, thereby creating an important  leapfrog effect. In addition, the CGIAR and other international research bodies have increased their focus in the region, many now having a substantial local  presence. Nevertheless, the increased agricultural R&D activities of these alternative suppliers does not appear to have counterbalanced the stalling growth in public agricultural R&D spending.

In recent years, a number of highly influential initiatives have emphasized the critical role of (agricultural) science and technology for poverty alleviation and food
security. New and better targeted technologies are essential to increasing agricultural productivity, as are well-developed and well-funded agricultural research  systems. However, the recommendations and growth targets set by the IAC report and NEPAD’s FAAP seem overly ambitious without substantial accompanying funding increases. Doubling Africa’s agricultural research intensity ratio from 0.7 percent in 2000 to 1.5 percent by 2015 as recommended by IAC in 2004 would require  average annual growth in agricultural R&D spending of 10 percent. Given that there is no evidence that governments and donor organizations have substantially increased their funding to agricultural research over the 1 percent per year average of the 1990s, this goal can only be considered unrealistic. In addition, based on existing investment patterns, Africa will probably miss out on most of the advances in biotechnology that are currently being made in other regions in the world. Given the continued withdrawal of donor funding, other funding sources will need to be consolidated and further developed to counteract the impending steady erosion of agricultural R&D capacity. In addition, foreign donors and African governments must renew their commitment to financing agricultural R&D, accompanied by innovative funding mechanisms, institutional reforms, and the formulation of sound S&T policies, all of which are prerequisites for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the region’s agricultural research.

Agricultural R&D Spending at a Critical Crossroads

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Authors:
Pardey, Philip; Alston, Julian; Beintema, Nienke

Year:
2006

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

The balance of global agricultural R&D investments is shifting in ways that will have important long-term consequences, especially for the world’s least affluent countries. The primary reason is changes in supply and demand for agricultural technologies in developed countries, which have been the main producers of agricultural  technologies.

These countries seem unlikely to provide the quantities of productivity-enhancing technologies, suitable for adaptation and adoption in food defi cit countries, that they did in the past. This trend has been compounded by a scaling back of developed country support for the international agricultural R&D system, which has already diverted its own attention away from fi nished productivityenhancing technologies, especially for staple food crops.

A shift in R&D agendas is forcing a rethinking of some national and multinational policies. National Governments can take some initiatives in national agricultural R&D
policy, such as: enhancing IP and tailoring the institutional and policy details of IPRs to best fi t local circumstances; increasing the total amount of government funding for their national agricultural R&D systems; introducing institutional arrangements and incentives for private and joint publicprivate funding; and improving the processes by which agricultural R&D resources are administered and allocated.

Agricultural Research: A Growing global divide?

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Authors:
Pardey, Philip G.; Beintema, Nienke; Dehmer, Steven; Wood, Stanley

Year:
2006

Publisher
Agricultural Science & Technology Indicators (ASTI); and Initiative International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Sustained, well-targeted, and effectively used investments in R&D have reaped handsome rewards from improved agricultural productivity and cheaper, higher quality  foods and fibers. As we begin a new millennium, the global patterns of investments in agricultural R&D are changing in ways that may have profound consequences for the structure of agriculture worldwide and the ability of poor people in poor counties to feed themselves.

This report documents and discusses these changing investment patterns, highlighting developments in the public and private sectors. It revises and carries forward to 2000 data that were previously reported in the 2001 IFPRI Food Policy Report Slow Magic: Agricultural R&D a Century After Mendel. Some past trends are continuing or  have come into sharper focus, while others are moving in new directions not apparent in the previous series. In addition, this report illustrates the use of spatial data to analyze spillover prospects among countries or agroecologies and the targeting of R&D to address specific production problems like drought-induced production risks.  More detailed data on the agricultural research investment trends summarized here can be accessed at www.asti.cgiar.org.

Women Scientists In Sub-Saharan African Agricultural R&D

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Authors:
Stads, Gert-Jan; Beintema, Nienke

Year:
2006

Publisher
Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI); and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Over the past few decades, the number of female scientists and managers working in agricultural research has increased significantly in both industrialized and  developing countries, although empirical studies have repeatedly shown a disproportionately low number of women working in senior scientific positions (Sheridan 1998). The science world appears to be greatly affected with gender barriers disadvantaging female scientists in their career development. Throughout the world, female scientists are subjected to more stereotyping and associated negative biases in the work place than their male colleagues; they are less well connected to informal social and professional networks, ultimately leading to lower publication rates; and the cultural stereotypes of men’s and women’s roles within the household still appear to limit women’s opportunities for advancement into senior positions. For this reason, the integration of women into research agencies, which have traditionally been  largely staffed by men, poses challenges for those women who want to build a scientific career, as well as for their employers who are responding to demographic shifts (Sheridan 1998 and Brush et al. 1995).

In 2000, based on a 27-country sample, 18 percent of sub-Saharan African (African hereafter) agricultural researchers were women (Table 1 and Figure 1). In 1996, the corresponding average for Latin America was 20 percent. In 2000, close to one third of agricultural researchers in the Southern African states of Botswana, South Africa, and Mauritius was female, while in 9 of the 14 West African countries in our sample, the share of female researchers as a percentage of total research staff was 10 percent or lower. In East Africa, large variations existed from one country to the next. In 2000, female researchers accounted for more than a quarter of Sudan’s agricultural research staff and about one-fifth of total Kenyan, Ugandan, and Tanzanian research staff. In contrast, Eritrea and Ethiopia had very low female agricultural researcher ratios of 4 and 7 percent, respectively.

Agricultural R&D in the Developing World: Too Little, Too Late?

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Authors:
Pardey, Philip G., Alston, Julian M., and Piggott, Roley R.

Year:
2006

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

The balance of global agricultural research investments is shifting in ways that will have important long-term consequences, especially for the world’s poorest people.
The primary reason is changes in the supply and demand for agricultural technologies in the world’s richest countries, which have been the main producers of agricultural technologies. These countries will no longer provide the same levels of productivity-enhancing technologies, suitable for adaptation and adoption in food-deficit countries, as they did in the past. This trend has been compounded by a reduction of rich-country support for the international agricultural research system, which had already diverted its own attention away from productivity-enhancing technologies.

These changes mean that developing countries will have to become more selfreliant in the development of applicable agricultural technologies. To achieve complete
self-reliance will be beyond the ability of many countries, especially given recent and ongoing structural changes in science and scientific institutions—in particular the rise of modern biotechnologies and other high-tech agriculture, and the associated roles of intellectual property. The largest developing countries— Brazil, China, and India—are making the transition, but they have yet to overcome the problem of chronic underinvestment in agricultural research, and they have many problems to address with respect to the effective management and efficient use of available resources.

The poorest of the poor will continue to rely on the supply of spillovers from other countries and from multinational efforts, but current international investments in productivity-enhancing research seem too small to fill the vacuum being created by the changes in rich-country research agendas. During the twentieth century, the world’s poor countries were often slow to take advantage of the fruits of agricultural-science achievements in the rich countries; they began to adopt modern varieties and mechanical and chemical innovations, but only after a lag. One purpose of multinational initiatives was to shorten the lag and close the gap, and that goal was apparently being realized during the Green Revolution. But recent trends raise the specter of repeating the past: the return of a large and growing scientific and productivity gap, with attendant human problems. A rethinking of some national and multinational policies is required.

The issues are large-scale and long-term, and they demand serious attention, including further and more-specific analysis. Additional research policy analysis and evaluation will be required to support improved research policy formulation and priority setting. The benefits from effective policy research will come not only  from increasing the agricultural R&D effort and making it more economically efficient but also from remedying harmful policies. Many developing countries lack the  institutional capacity for social-science research oriented toward agricultural science and technology policy (Smith, Pardey, and Chan-Kang 2004). Like other types of agricultural R&D, policy-oriented research has to be locally adapted. A useful development in the case-study countries would be the establishment of domesticagricultural-research policy units to investigate and advise on a whole host of policy and practical issues concerning the NARSs, such as innovative funding methods,removal of constraints on private involvement in agricultural research, priority setting, workforce planning, incentive systems, and ex ante and ex post evaluation ofresearch projects.National governments in developing countries can also take some initiatives, as indicated by the analysis of case studies in this book, such as: (1) enhancing IPR and tailoring the institutional and policy details of IP to fit local circumstances; (2) increasing the total amount of government funding for their NARSs; (3) introducing institutional arrangements and incentives for private and joint public– private funding, such as matching grants and check-off funds; and (4) improving the processes by which agricultural research resources are administered and allocated. But such initiatives alone may not be sufficient. Another role for poor-country governments and others who care will be to remind rich people in developed countries that they can and should do more to help poor people in  developing countries to feed themselves.

Participation of Female Agricultural Scientists in Developing Countries

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Authors:
Beintema, Nienke

Year:
2006

Publisher
Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI); and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Despite the significant increase in the number of female scientists in agricultural research in industrialized and developing countries in recent decades, the participation of women in science and technology (S&T) remains low. The attrition rate for women enrolled in S&T-related subjects at higher-education agencies or employed as  scientists and engineers is much higher than it is for men. Further, significant disparity remains in the number of women holding senior scientific or management positions (Sheridan 1998; IAC 2006).

Disaggregated data on the number and share of women in S&T positions are scarce, and they predominantly focus on developed countries or some of the larger, often more-advanced, developing countries (IAC 2006). The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative, as part of its overall data collection activities on agricultural R&D investments and capacity, has collected data to fill this gap; at least for the agricultural sector. This brief provides an initial overview of the results, based on a dataset comprising 67 countries. Currently, only one in five agricultural researchers in the developing world are female. Across regions, average shares of female scientists range from 17 percent for the Middle East and North Africa as of 2001/03, to 20 percent for the Asia-Pacific, as of 2002-/03, and Latin America and the Caribbean, as of 1996—the latest year relevant data are available for this region.

Agricultural R&D Capacity and Investments in the Asia-Pacific Region

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Authors:
Beintema, Nienke; Stads, Gert-Jan

Year:
2008

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

The Asia–Pacific region is highly diverse in its geography, culture, politics, and history, and this diversity extends to its economic and agricultural development, and consequently to its agricultural R&D systems. In 2002, the Asia–Pacific region as a whole, including its four high-income countries, spent $9.6 billion on agricultural R&D (in 2005 international prices), with China, Japan, and India accounting for about 70 percent of this total. Regional investments in agricultural R&D grew considerably during the 1981–2002, especially in the last decade of the period, during which time both China and India intensified their agricultural research  spending. Other smaller countries, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, also realized impressive agricultural R&D spending growth over this timeframe, whereas spending in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Laos, proved sluggish and at times negative, largely due to the Asian financial crisis, the completion of large donor-financed projects, or high rates of inflation.

Although the bulk of Asian agricultural R&D is still financed by national governments, new sources of funding are emerging in some countries. In particular, competitive funding mechanisms, internally generated revenues, and production or export levies have gained prominence. With the exception of Laos and Nepal, donor dependency is low. The private sector has also become more involved both in conducting its own research and in funding public agricultural research. Human and financial resource capacity is also varied: several countries have well-managed and funded systems producing world-class research, while others––some of which are highly dependent
on agriculture––have experienced significant reductions in their R&D spending and research intensity levels. More than ever, a knowledge divide between the region’s rich and poor countries and the scientific “haves” and “have-nots” is becoming visible. Sustainable financial and political support for agricultural R&D is crucial, as is the creation of attractive investment climates for private investors, if the challenges of sustainable economic and social development facing the region are to be met.

Measuring Agricultural Research Investments: A Revised Global Picture

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Authors:
Beintema, Nienke; Stads, Gert-Jan

Year:
2008

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Agricultural Science & Technology Indicators (ASTI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Revised calculations of global agricultural research and development (R&D) spending show that the world is investing less in agricultural research than previously thought. In addition, the agricultural R&D spending of developing countries has been revised downward, with the result that high-income countries as a group still invest more in public agricultural R&D than do developing countries. Developing countries are making up ground, but more slowly than previously estimated.

This brief presents revised investment trends in global agricultural R&D previously published by the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative. This revision has been prompted by major World Bank adjustments to its comparative pricing of goods and services across countries, expressed in internationally comparable exchange rates known as purchasing power parity (PPP) indexes. These index adjustments have in turn led to downward revisions of global economic growth figures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and an upward revision of developing-country poverty estimates by the World Bank. Furthermore, ASTI recently revised its country classifications to reflect increasing diversity among developing countries. The initiative has also produced new estimates of agricultural R&D investments for Latin America and the Caribbean, and a number of other developed and developing countries.

The reduced calculation of total global agricultural R&D spending is largely the result of a downward adjustment of total spending for China and India. The PPP indexes for the United States, Japan, and other high-income countries did not undergo major revisions. However, due to large downward PPP adjustments in many other countries as well as the reclassification of non-OECD high-income countries, the share of high-income countries as a group in 2000 increased to 57 percent.

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