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Botswana

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BWA
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Botswana
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Botswana
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DAR

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Botswana: ASTI–DAR Country Factsheet

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Nienke Beintema, Neo Sharon Bodilenyane, and Sandra Perez

Year:
2016

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute and Department of Agricultural Research

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

Related country page(s)
Botswana

Declining spending levels

Botswana’s ongoing economic depression and spiraling inflation have had a severe, adverse impact on the country’s agricultural research spending since 2006. Expenditure levels dropped by 30 percent during 2006–2014, although they rebounded slightly in 2013–2014. The total number of researchers has risen over time, intially due to growth in the number of BSc-qualified researchers but more recently due to the recruitment of researchers qualified to the MSc- and PhD-degree level.

Lack of funding diversity

Agricultural R&D in Botswana is almost entirely funded by the government. Budget cuts in recent years have left the main agency, DAR, with insufficient resources to conduct research or maintain its infrastructure. Competitive regional grants and donor calls for proposals offer a potential new source of funding for DAR; the department would also benefit by being able to keep any revenues generated through the sale of goods and services, which are currently channeled back to the national Treasury.

Capacity strengthening needed

Botswana has a limited number of skilled and experienced agricultural researchers. DAR needs senior PhD-qualified researchers to lead research programs, and train and mentor their younger colleagues. The department needs to take steps to address this situation. The provision of postgraduate training programs at BCA is limited, so most MSc and PhD degrees are obtained abroad. It is important that the government supports BCA in increasing the number and size of its MScand BSc- degree programs.

Lack of scale economies

Botswana invests a relatively high share of its AgGDP in agricultural research. The ratio was around 3 percent during 2011–2014—three times the 1 percent minimum level recommended by the African Union and the United Nations. Nevertheless, such a high intensity ratio is not uncommon in countries with small populations and relatively high per capita incomes. Small countries are not able to benefit from economies of scale to the degree that larger countries can, so basic research infrastructure and staffing constitute greater shares of investment. 

Botswana: ASTI–DAR Country Factsheet

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Kathleen Flaherty and Charles Mazereku

Year:
2014

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute and Department of Agricultural Research.

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

Related country page(s)
Botswana

Overall, the number of researchers holding PhD degrees doubled in Botswana during 2000–2011, and the number of researchers qualified to the BSc-degree level tripled.

Agricultural R&D in Botswana is almost entirely funded by the government. Spending on operating and program costs increased significantly during 2005–2007, but contracted again from 2008, when government funding to many public-sector agencies was cut due to spiraling inflation.

Botswana invests a relatively high share of its agricultural GDP in agricultural research. Nevertheless, such a high intensity ratio is not uncommon in countries with small populations and relatively high per capita incomes. Small countries are not able to benefit from economies of scale to the degree that larger countries can, so basic research infrastructure and staffing constitute greater shares of investment.

Benchmarking Agricultural Research Investment and Capacity Indicators Across Southern African Countries

Total investments in public agricultural R&D in the Southern African countries included in this study increased slightly from the 1990s to 2008. Overall, the 2001–08 investment growth in these countries was lower than average growth in other subregions of the continent. With the exception of Tanzania, public research spending growth stagnated or was negative. However, agricultural research in the middle-income countries of South Africa, Mauritius, Namibia, and Botswana was comparatively well-funded by their national governments. These countries outperformed other subregions, as well as neighboring lower income countries, in many key areas. They are less dependent on donor contributions and development bank loans than are the subregion’s low-income countries which have been subject to funding volatility associated with fluctuating allocations and disbursement schedules.

Overall agricultural research staffing in the SADC countries has also grown slightly since the 1990s, but not as much as countries in other subregions of Africa. Corresponding to the high agricultural investment intensity ratios, the middle- income countries have high ratios of agricultural researchers to agricultural laborers. South Africa in particular leads the subregion with its well-established agricultural research agencies and universities. In 2008, South Africa employed the highest share of PhD-qualified research staff among the SADC countries (46 percent).

Strengthening research capacity continues to be a challenge in most of the Southern African countries, and the lack of local PhD programs particularly limits training in Botswana and Namibia. Agricultural researchers in Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe are among the least highly qualified in SSA given that about half are qualified to the BSc level only. Other countries, such as Madagascar and Tanzania, employ an aging pool of researchers as a consequence of long-term government recruitment freezes, so recently recruited staff are young, less qualified, and often have limited training opportunities.

Botswana Factsheet - Women's participation in agricultural research and higher education

Key gender trends for Botswana

  • In 2008, the three largest agricultural research and higher education agencies in Botswana employed 235 professional staff, of which 75 were female (32 percent).
  • The share of female professional staff at the Department of Agricultural Research, the largest government research agency, declined from 36 percent in 2001 to 27 percent in 2008.
  • Close to a quarter of all PhD?qualified staff were female, while 31 and 39 percent held MSc and BSc degrees, respectively.
  • Women are well presented in all age groups. The share of female professional staff declines according to years of service, with the exception of staff employed at their respective agencies for more than 20 years.
  • The share of women in management, including positions as deans of faculties and head of departments, was 16 percent.
  • In 2007, female students accounted for 27 percent of the total student population in agricultural sciences, and 34 percent of the graduating students that year were female.

Botswana: ASTI–DAR Country Brief

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Beintema, Nienke M.; Modiakgotla, Elija; Mazhani, Louis M.

Year:
2004

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Department of Agricultural Research (DAR)

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

Related country page(s)
Botswana

Botswana’s national agricultural system differs from systems in many other African countries in several key ways. First, its funding level increased by nearly two-thirds in the 1990s given the 15 percent yearly increase in DAR’s budget, largely for the establishment of three regional stations. Second, the level of donor funding throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s was very low. Third, Botswana has an extremely high research intensity level—not uncommon for a country with a small population and high per capita income. Finally, Botswana ranks high for the region in terms of the share of female research staff and the ratio support-staff per scientist.

On the negative side, the constraining factor for DAR is difficulty in attracting and keeping well-qualified staff because of low government-sector salary levels. As a result, the department has a large number of vacancies, and the number of researchers with PhD degrees dropped by almost half during the 1990s. Another area of concern, given the  minimum MSc requirement for new recruits at DAR, is the absence of MSc training at BCA and the lack of 2003 government funding for MSc training outside the country. Another area of concern is the significant reduction in donor funding to enhance training of young scientists. Currently most of the training is done through limited government funding and this has significantly affected the number of researchers that DAR can send for training at any one time. If this situation continues it will no doubt further affect DAR’s staffing levels.

Botswana: ASTI–DAR Country Note

ASTI publicaiton cover

Authors:
Stads, Gert-Jan; Pholo, Motlalepula

Year:
2011

Publisher
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Department of Agricultural Research (DAR)

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

Related country page(s)
Botswana

Botswana’s agricultural R&D capacity and investments rose rapidly during 1995–2007. However, inflationary pressures and a considerable exodus of R&D staff from DAR, the country’s principal public agricultural R&D agency, caused overall R&D investments and capacity levels to fall in 2008. That year, the country as a whole employed 97 FTE research staff and spent 46 million pula or 19 million dollars on agricultural R&D (both in 2005 PPP prices). Botswana has one of the highest agricultural R&D intensity ratios in Africa and the developing world, but this is not uncommon for a country with a small population and a relatively high per capita income.

Notwithstanding important government-funded training initiatives for DAR scientists leading to an overall increase in the number of PhD-qualified scientists since the turn of the millennium, the Department has serious difficulties attracting and retaining well-qualified staff because of its comparatively low government salaries. Many scientists have left DAR in favor of better-paying positions at parastatals, and DAR has been forced to fill most of these vacancies with recent university graduates.
Advanced training for this relatively inexperienced pool of scientists should be a high priority in the coming years, as a critical mass of  highly qualified research staff is crucial to producing high-level research and to securing future R&D funding, whether through regional  competitive funds or other channels.

Parastatals, including BCA and NFTRC, are able to offer much higher salaries compared with DAR and therefore more easily attract well-qualified staff.
The government will have to reconsider measures to increase DAR’s competitiveness and to clearly identify its long-term R&D priorities and translate them into relevant, focused, and coherent R&D programs.
Though talks of merging DAR with BCA or NFTRC have been ongoing, no firm plans have been made. For the time being, the Department will continue to face these fundamental challenges.

Department of Agricultural Research (DAR)

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