Nigeria, two other countries lead in research funding
By Abdallah el-Kurebe

A report released on Wednesday by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has that although public research spending across the Sub-Saharan Africa has grown by more than 30 percent in real terms, from $1.2 billion in 2000 to $1.7 billion in 2011, African states should Double agriculture research spending.

It said that of this new growth in research funding, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya had contributed by half.

“Sub-Saharan Africa needs to double its investment in agricultural research to meet the challenges of high population growth, climate change and deteriorating soils,” says the report.

According to IFPRI, of the 38 countries surveyed, 28 fell short of the minimum agricultural investment targeted by the African Union and the United Nations.

Nienke Beintema, one of the authors of the report titled: “Taking Stock of National Agricultural R&D Capacity in Africa South of the Sahara, said: “It is critical that African countries invest more in agricultural research to ensure that they can feed their populations.”
The report further observed that the quality of research in sub-Saharan Africa and the region’s food security “still suffer from underinvestment, inadequate human resource capacity, poor research infrastructure, and a lack of coherent policies.”

Even as the region’s public agricultural research capacity had increased by 50 percent during 2000-2011 to the equivalent of 14,500 full-time researchers, the report further observed that “the new capacity is not always enough to keep pace with increasing challenges.”

IFPRI stated that many of the most experienced researchers were approaching retirement and thereby causing concern for policy makers.

The report called for more training for female researchers in a region where majority of farmers were women. “More women researchers must be trained, and the large number of countries that spend less on research than recommended should note the clear link between new research spending and increased food production.”

If noted that while gender inclusion was improving, 10 of the 27 countries with applicable data, “recorded a decline in the proportion of female agricultural researchers for 2008-2011. The links between new money for research and increased food production are clear.

“From the mid-1990s, regional agricultural output grew at an average rate of 3.5 percent per year, compared with only 1.1 percent per year during 1971-1985, when less money was going to research,” the report further stated.

Posted by Abdallah el-Kurebe