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An assessment of the gender gap in African agricultural research capacities

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Authors:
Nienke Beintem

Year:
2017

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC

Publication category

Overview publications

Female researchers offer different insights from their male counterparts, and their input provides an important perspective in addressing the unique and pressing challenges of female farmers. Consequently, it is important that agricultural research agencies employ a balance of male and female researchers. Statistics on sex-disaggregated capacity trends are needed to enable decision-makers to set priorities and benchmarks and to monitor progress. New evidence collected through Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) shows that the gender gap in African agricultural research, although still substantial, continued to decline. In some countries, however, the participation of women in agricultural research continues to be extremely low. Furthermore, female researchers are often young and less qualified than their male colleagues. Although the ASTI evidence provides some useful insights, this article argues that more detailed information is needed to ensure that gender issues are better and more effectively taken into consideration in policy formulation for and implementation of agricultural research issues.

West African Agriculture for jobs, nutrition, growth, and climate resilience

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Authors:
Keith D. Wiebe, Gert-Jan Stads, Nienke M. Beintema, Karen Brooks, Nicola Cenacchi, Shahnila Dunston, Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Timothy B. Sulser, Timothy S. Thomas

Year:
2017

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute

Publication category

Overview publications

West African countries will need to build on and enhance the largely positive performance of agriculture in recent years to moderate or perhaps reverse projected higher prices and growth in imports. The effects of increased demand and climate change will be felt as early as 2030, and with greater force in 2050. Technologies are known at present and additional ones can be developed that will meet rising demand and perform well under projected changes in climate, but full preparation, release, and effective dissemination of the technologies will require investment and managerial engagement.

Complementary investment in research, water management, and infrastructure will be more effective than separate and uncoordinated investments. Different portfolios of investment carry different costs, payoffs, and trade-offs among objectives. In light of the resource constraints and multiple objectives, rigorous analysis to reveal costs and trade-offs will assist in decision making.

The composition of the agricultural research portfolio will affect the contribution of research to poverty reduction, nutrition, job creation, growth, and climate resilience. Research to raise productivity and yields of staples usually contributes most to poverty reduction. Research raising productivity of animal products, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and biofortified crops improves nutrition. Research raising the productivity and competitiveness of products requiring processing, whether for domestic, regional, or export markets, creates jobs. Research addressing the growing import gap contributes to growth and a manageable trade balance. Research on technologies for better management of natural resources addresses long-term sustainability. All of the research must take climate change into account. Important choices must be made in allocating resources among research programs. No single set of priorities is optimal, but analysis to clarify options and contributions to competing goals can be helpful in decision making.

Bilan détaillé des investissements et des ressources humaines affectées à la recherche agricole africaine

En Afrique au sud du Sahara, c’est une exploitation intensifiée des terres (relativement abondantes) plutôt qu’un renforcement de l’efficacité technique qui a été la force motrice de la croissance agricole pendant les 50 dernières années. Cependant, l’accroissement démographique rapide et les effets néfastes du changement climatique pèsent toujours plus sur la disponibilité et la fertilité des terres en menaçant aussi l’accès à l'eau.

Auteurs: 
Nienke Beintema et Gert-Jan Stads
Année: 
2017
Cover image: 
Publié par: 
Institut international de recherche sur les politiques alimentaires
Publication Region: 
Language: 

A Comprehensive Overview of Investments and Human Resource Capacity in African Agricultural Research

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Other languages:
Version française

Authors:
Nienke Beintema and Gert-Jan Stads

Year:
2017

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute.

Publication category

Overview publications

Increased use of (relatively abundant) land, rather than improved technical efficiency, has been the main driver of agricultural production growth in Africa south of the Sahara (SSA) over the past five decades. However, rapid population growth and the adverse effects of climate change are increasingly putting pressure on land availability, land fertility, and water access. Given the well-documented positive impact of agricultural research investment on agricultural productivity growth, it is critical that African countries step up their investment in agricultural research and instate sound policies to promote technological and institutional innovations in the agricultural sector.

This report assesses trends in investments, human resource capacity, and outputs in agricultural research in SSA. It highlights the cross-cutting trends and challenges that emerged from ASTI’s country-level data, structuring it within four broad areas: funding capacity, human resource capacity, research outputs, and institutional conditions.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Agricultural research spending in SSA grew by nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2014. However, underinvestment remains widespread, with 33 out of 40 countries for which data were available spending less than 1.0 percent of their AgGDP on agricultural research.
  • Across SSA, agricultural researcher numbers increased by 70 percent during 2000–2014. However, a very large share of senior PhD-qualified researchers are approaching retirement. Without adequate succession strategies and training, significant knowledge gaps will emerge.
  • Female scientists remain grossly underrepresented in agricultural research, despite the fact that they are in a unique position to effectively address the pressing challenges facing African farmers, the majority of whom are female.
  • Donor dependency and funding volatility remain critical in a large number of African countries.
  • Outdated research facilities and equipment are impeding the conduct of productive research, which compromises the number and quality of research outputs and ultimately translates into reduced impact.

The report concludes by outlining a number of policy measures that SSA governments can undertake to address the various challenges related to agricultural research funding, human capacity, outputs, infrastructure, and institutional structure.

Food policy indicators: Tracking change: Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI)

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Authors:
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Year:
2017

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Further information

See also the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) 2017 Global Food Policy Report.

IFPRI’s flagship report reviews the major food policy issues, developments, and decisions of 2016, and highlights challenges and opportunities for 2017 at the global and regional levels.

This section of the report provides updates on data generated by IFPRI research in 2016 and illustrations of key trends. Indicators include investments in agricultural research, public spending on agriculture, capacity for food policy research, and agricultural total factor productivity, as well as a hunger index at the country level.

An Assessment of the critical financial, human, and institutional capacity issues affecting agricultural research in West Africa.

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Gert-Jan Stads and Nienke Beintema

Year:
2017

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute

Publication category

Overview publications

SYNTHESIS AND POLICY CONSIDERATIONS

Well-developed national agricultural research systems and adequate levels of investment and human resource capacities are prerequisites in the attainment of agricultural development, food security, and poverty reduction. Some encouraging signs indicate that West African countries have become increasingly focused on investing in agriculture for economic growth in recent years. Many countries have developed solid agricultural development and financing plans to strengthen agricultural production and food security as part of the CAADP implementation framework. Despite this increased political support to agricultural research, West Africa is still severely lagging behind other parts of Africa in the area of agricultural research capacity and investment. Underinvestment in agricultural research in West Africa is considerably greater than in other parts of Africa, the subregion is more dependent on volatile donor funding, and it employs both a much older pool of scientists (many of whom are approaching retirement age) and fewer female agricultural scientists. Furthermore, West Africa is severely challenged in terms of research infrastructure. Outdated research equipment and facilities are impeding the performance of productive research, which compromises the number and quality of research outputs and ultimately translates into reduced impact.

Since 2008, WAAPP has injected a significant amount of funding into West African NARS. The program has made substantial progress in addressing the subregion’s most acute agricultural research challenges. It has invested extensively in the construction and rehabilitation of research infrastructure for predefined priority commodity areas and in providing adequate laboratory equipment. Another major achievement of WAAPP has been the investment in postgraduate training of more than 1,000 young scientists across West Africa—30 percent of whom are female. As such, looming large-scale human capacity losses due to the retirement of senior researchers are being offset. This extensive WAAPP investment in infrastructure and staff training has considerably strengthened the position of West African countries to perform high-quality priority research over the coming years.

This report assesses long-term investment, human capacity, research output, and institutional trends in agricultural research in West Africa, particularly focusing on developments during 2000–2016. The analysis uses information collected by Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) and the World Bank.

La recherche agricole en Afrique: Investir dans les futures récoltes: Synopsis

Depuis le passage au nouveau millénaire, l’Afrique au sud du Sahara (ASS) a connu une croissance économique sans précédent : dans la plupart des pays africains, les taux de pauvreté ont régulièrement diminué et les sources de revenus en zone rurale se sont améliorées. Nombre de pays sont toutefois confrontés à des défis de taille — volatilité et augmentation des prix des denrées alimentaires et effets néfastes du changement climatique —, qui les contraignent à accélérer sans délai leur productivité agricole.

Auteurs: 
John Lynam, Nienke Beintema, Johannes Roseboom, Ousmane Badiane
Année: 
2016
Cover image: 
Publié par: 
Institut international de recherche sur les politiques alimentaires
Publication Region: 
Language: 

Comparing apples to apples: A new indicator of research and development investment intensity in agriculture

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Authors:
Alejandro Nin-Pratt

Year:
2016

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Further information

IFPRI Discussion Paper  01559

 

It has been apparent for more than a century that future economic progress in agriculture will be driven by the invention and application of new technologies resulting from expenditure in research and development (R&D) by governments and private firms. Nevertheless, it is conventional wisdom in the economic development literature that there is a significant underinvestment in agricultural R&D in developing countries. Evidence supporting this belief is provided, first by a vast literature showing returns on R&D expenditure to be so high as to justify levels of investment in multiples of those actually found, and second, from available data showing low research effort in developing countries as measured by the intensity ratio (IR), that is, the percentage of agricultural gross domestic product invested in agricultural R&D (excluding the for-profit private sector). This paper argues that the IR is an inadequate indicator to measure and compare the research efforts of a diverse group of countries and proposes an alternative index that allows meaningful comparisons between countries. The proposed index can be used to identify potential under-investors, determine intensity gaps, and quantify the R&D investment needed to close these gaps by comparing countries with similar characteristics. Results obtained using the new R&D intensity indicator with a sample of 88 countries show that the investment effort in developing countries is much higher than the one observed using the conventional IR measure. The new measure finds that countries like China, India, Brazil, and Kenya have similar levels of R&D intensity to those in the United States. To close the R&D intensity gap measured by the new index, developing countries will need to invest US$7.1 billion on top of the $21.4 billion invested on average during 2008–2011, an increase of 33 percent of total actual investment.

Agricultural research in Africa: Investing in future harvests

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
John Lynam, Nienke Beintema, Johannes Roseboom, Ousmane Badiane, eds

Year:
2016

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Further information

Individual book chapter downloads are available on the IFPRI website

Agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara is at a prospective tipping point. Growth has accelerated in the past decade, but is unsustainable given increasing use of finite resources.

Agricultural Research in Africa: Investing in Future Harvests discusses the need to shift to a growth path based on increased productivity—essential if Africa is to increase rural incomes and compete in both domestic and international markets. Such a shift ultimately requires building on evolving improvements that collectively translate to deepening rural innovation capacity.

An essential component of innovation is a continuous supply of improved agricultural technologies and management practices stemming from an effective and efficient agricultural research system. The basic architecture of such a system is essentially in place, but it has yet to coalesce into a fully integrated system with clear divisions of labor and effective subsidiarity.

Increasing national agricultural research and development (R&D) investment remains a critical prerequisite for achieving balanced agricultural growth in Africa.

Agricultural Research in Africa: Investing in Future Harvests offers a comprehensive perspective on the evolution, current status, and future goals of agricultural research and development in Africa, including analyses of the complex underlying issues and challenges involved, as well as insights into how they might be overcome.

Synopsis: Agricultural research in Africa: Investing in future harvests

ASTI publicaiton cover

Other languages:
Version française

Authors:
John Lynam, Nienke Beintema, Johannes Roseboom, Ousmane Badiane, eds

Year:
2016

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Publication category

Overview publications

Further information

The full book including Individual chapter downloads are available on the IFPRI website

 

Agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara is at a prospective tipping point. Growth has accelerated in the past decade, but is unsustainable given increasing use of finite resources.

Agricultural Research in Africa: Investing in Future Harvests discusses the need to shift to a growth path based on increased productivity—essential if Africa is to increase rural incomes and compete in both domestic and international markets. Such a shift ultimately requires building on evolving improvements that collectively translate to deepening rural innovation capacity.

An essential component of innovation is a continuous supply of improved agricultural technologies and management practices stemming from an effective and efficient agricultural research system. The basic architecture of such a system is essentially in place, but it has yet to coalesce into a fully integrated system with clear divisions of labor and effective subsidiarity.

Increasing national agricultural research investment remains a critical prerequisite for achieving balanced agricultural growth in Africa.

 

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