Progress, Challenges, Opportunities
Following a period of stagnation in the 1990s, total public agricultural research and development (R&D) spending and capacity levels in Sub-Saharan Africa have increased in recent years. However, the lion’s share of investment growth has occurred in just a handful of countries; in many other countries, investment levels have stagnated or decreased, and often remain highly volatile. Some countries currently have such low investment and capacity levels that the impact of agricultural R&D on rural development and poverty reduction is questionable at best. This is particularly true for many francophone West African countries, which have extremely fragile agricultural R&D systems, remain highly dependent on external funding, and have agricultural researchers who are rapidly approaching retirement age.
Agricultural development, food security, and poverty reduction require well-developed national agricultural research systems and adequate levels of investment. In recent years, governments have exhibited renewed interest in supporting agricultural development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Various initiatives—such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, and the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis, as well as international efforts to re-engage in climate change mitigation and natural resources management—have all contributed to returning agriculture and agricultural R&D to the political agenda.
On April 7, IFPRI will release a report titled African Agricultural R&D in the New Millennium: Progress for Some, Challenges for Many. Following a brief overview of the report's main conclusions, the seminar will feature a discussion on opportunities for addressing the challenges facing African agricultural R&D systems.