Country Facts: Key Trends in Agricultural Research and Development (R&D) since 2000

*All data related to investment and spending patterns are adjusted for inflation.


  • Agricultural R&D expenditures have gradually increased since 2000, reflecting enhanced government funding and greater involvement by the higher education sector, but agricultural research remains largely donor dependent.
  • Benin faces a serious research capacity crisis. Staff levels at the country’s National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRAB), the main R&D agency, have dwindled and the high average age of scientists means that the most experienced researchers are nearing retirement.
  • INRAB has difficulty retaining qualified researchers due to low salaries relative to universities and a public-sector recruitment ban that limits opportunities. About two-thirds of its researchers are contract workers.
  • Urgent steps must be taken to boost scientific cooperation among research actors, cancel the hiring freeze, and provide young researchers with training opportunities.


  • Investments in agricultural research rose rapidly until 2007, after which spiraling inflation prompted the government to cut funding to public R&D agencies in 2008.
  • Research capacity also declined in 2008 due to a considerable exodus of R&D staff from the Department of Agricultural Research (DAR), the country’ main public agency for agricultural research.
  • R&D is mainly funded by the government. Donor support for, and private-sector involvement in agricultural research is minimal.
  • Despite government-funded training initiatives, which increased the number of PhD-level scientists, DAR has serious difficulties attracting and retaining well-qualified staff because of its relatively low salaries.


  • Agricultural R&D spending has followed a pattern of booms and busts, coinciding with the start and end of projects funded by World Bank loans, which have heavily funded R&D since the late 1980s.
  • In 2004, R&D expenditures plummeted following the conclusion of a World Bank-funded project, resulting in dire financial straits, disruptions in research, and a halt to recruitment.
  • Overall, the country’s agricultural researchers are among the more highly qualified in West Africa, but recruiting and training young scientists are vital as the average age of researchers has rapidly risen.
  • The government needs to increase funding, with a long-term focus, to halt the instability and fragility that have characterized the country’s agricultural research to date.


  • Following a decade of sociopolitical turmoil, a peace treaty was signed in 2003 that prompted the return of donors and has led to an increase in agricultural R&D spending and research capacity.
  • Donors, particularly Belgium and the World Bank, play a key role in funding Burundi’s agricultural R&D.
  • The Burundi Institute of Agricultural Sciences (ISABU), the country’s main R&D agency, lacks a critical mass of PhD-level scientists due to serious difficulties in attracting and retaining well-qualified staff. However, the status of ISABU researchers has been upgraded recently, which will allow the institute to offer much higher salaries and, hopefully, recruit and retain highly qualified staff.
  • The government needs to provide long-term support to R&D to strengthen the agricultural sector, which has been weakened by sociopolitical crisis and climatic disturbances, so it can play a crucial role in poverty reduction and food security.


  • Despite recent and slight improvements, agricultural R&D spending remains far below the levels recorded before the civil wars of the 1990s, which had caused investments to plummet.
  • The country’s agricultural research is primarily funded by the government. Donors play only a very modest role in funding compared to many African countries.
  • Research capacity levels declined from 2001–08 at the agricultural centers of the General Delegation of Scientific and Technical Research (DGRST)—which coordinates and oversees research at 14 centers in the country—due to numerous retirements and a public-sector hiring freeze.
  • Congo’s researchers are among the oldest in Africa and 60 percent of DGRST staff are expected to retire between now and 2016, making the recruitment and training of young researchers an urgent need.
  • Reviving the agricultural sector and developing a research policy is crucial to reducing rural poverty and supporting economic diversification as oil production, the country’s main source of income, declines.


  • Agricultural R&D expenditures fell around 2000 but remained relatively stable during 2002–08. Civil war and sociopolitical turmoil have negatively impacted R&D investments in many regions of the country.
  • The National Center for Agricultural Research (CNRA), the main R&D agency, accounts for two-thirds of the country’s research capacity and over three-quarters of its agricultural R&D investments.
  • Unlike elsewhere in the region, the government and donors play a minimal role in financing agricultural R&D. CNRA is mainly funded by the private sector.
  • From 2000–08, average qualification levels of agricultural researchers improved.


  • Public spending on agricultural R&D decreased by more than 80 percent from 1998–2008, following severe cuts in donor funding.
  • The number of research staff nearly tripled from 1998-2008, and the share of female researchers increased from 3 percent in 2000 to 31 percent in 2008.
  • Eritrea’s agricultural researchers are among the least qualified in Africa. In 2008, only one-third of researchers held postgraduate degrees.
  • The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) accounted for more than 60 percent of agricultural research capacity and spending in 2008.


  • Total public spending on agricultural R&D increased significantly after 2000, peaking in 2001–02.
  • By 2008, expenditures at the country’s main agricultural research agency, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR), had returned to 2000 levels.
  • The number of research staff at the regional agricultural research institutes and at the country’s universities grew significantly after 2000.
  • Ethiopia’s agricultural researchers are among the least qualified in Africa in terms of postgraduate degrees, and female participation is also comparatively low.


  • Gabon employs an increasing number of agricultural researchers, but the resources needed to carry out research responsibilities are extremely low and erratic.
  • Gabon, one of the most developed countries in Africa, is one of the world’s least developed nations in terms of agricultural R&D, having one of the lowest ratios of spending as a percentage of agricultural GDP.
  • Gabon’s agricultural research is largely financed by the government, which frequently decrease its annual allocations to R&D during the budgetary year.
  • Although the country has established agricultural research agencies and facilities, they lack staffing, equipment, programs, and funding.
  • The government needs to quickly and considerably increase its funding for R&D in order to strengthen the agricultural sector and enable it to play a leading role in the country’s food security.


  • Levels of agricultural R&D investment were erratic during 2000–08, largely due to fluctuations in funding from the government, donors, and development banks. R&D spending has gradually fallen since 2006.
  • The National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) accounted for two-thirds of public agricultural researchers and close to three-quarters of R&D expenditures in 2008.
  • When a World Bank loan–funded project ended in 1999, NARI’s investments suddenly declined, but Bank funding is expected to soon increase with the launch of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program.
  • Agricultural R&D capacity has declined somewhat since 2000 and researchers are among the least qualified in West Africa. In 2008, NARI employed two PhD-level scientists and other R&D agencies employed none. Training of young scientists to the PhD level needs to be a top priority.


  • R&D spending more than doubled from 2000–08 due to rising salary costs at the agencies of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and increased funding for the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana. Research staff also grew steadily, albeit at a much slower rate than expenditures.
  • Despite growth in research capacity, many agencies face an aging pool of scientists and a hiring ban that threaten R&D capacity levels, which could erode the numerous training efforts of the past decade.
  • During 2000–08, research was primarily funded by the government, donors, and development banks.
  • The higher education sector is playing an increasingly important role in Ghana’s agricultural R&D, but nonprofit and for-profit companies play a minimal role.


  • Agricultural R&D expenditures have fallen gradually since 2000 due to cuts in government funding and reduced donor and development bank support, especially to the Guinean Institute for Agricultural Research (IRAG), the main R&D agency.
  • From 2000-08, IRAG—which accounts for two-thirds of the country’s agricultural research staff and R&D expenditures—was largely dependent on funding from France and World Bank loans.
  • R&D agencies face a bleak future due to the country’s current political climate. Foreign donors are largely unwilling to support projects and agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to secure other funding.
  • R&D spending as a share of agricultural GDP is one of the lowest in Africa. The government needs to increase funding considerably so that R&D agencies can promote food security and poverty reduction.


  • Public agricultural research in Kenya is well-funded and staffed relative to many other African countries. It has one of the highest ratios of total spending as a percentage of agricultural GDP in the region and attracts large sums of funding from donors and development banks.
  • Public R&D spending has varied yearly, especially at the main agency, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), due to fluctuations in funding from the government, donors and development banks.
  • Kenya has made major progress in terms of hiring and training female researchers. Overall, the number of researchers and their average qualification levels have steadily increased in recent years.
  • However, increasing numbers of agricultural scientists are approaching retirement age, and staff retention has become a major concern for KARI and other government agencies.


  • The completion of a large World Bank-funded project in 1999 prompted a sudden decline in Madagascar’s overall agricultural R&D expenditures.
  • Spending levels have recovered somewhat in recent years due to in-kind technical support and expatriate research staff from the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD).
  • The National Center of Applied Research and Rural Development (FOFIFA) is the country’s main agricultural research agency. Its share of national R&D expenditures fell from 69 percent in 1998 to 43 percent in 2008, and FOFIFA remains highly dependent on funding from donors and development banks.
  • Without a major increase in funding, Madagascar’s current levels of agricultural R&D investment and capacity could quickly erode along with other gains made in the past 15 years.
  • A key priority is providing training for its younger scientists, since many senior researchers will soon retire.


  • Agricultural R&D spending and capacity levels have been highly erratic, reflecting annual fluctuations in donor and development bank funding and the ensuing waves of recruitment and layoffs.
  • Unlike many African countries, Mali’s agricultural research is highly centralized. Its main R&D agency, the Rural Economy Institute (IER), accounted for roughly 80 percent of all agricultural researchers and expenditures in 2008.
  • Donor-supported training programs played a crucial role in increasing IER’s number of PhD-level researchers by 50 percent in 2008. In the higher education sector, overall qualifications also rose.
  • The aging of Mali’s agricultural research staff, many of whom will reach retirement age in the next decade, is a major concern. Recruiting and training young researchers is a matter of urgency.


  • Mauritania’s agricultural R&D system is split: Fisheries research, led by the Institute of Oceanographic Research and Fisheries (IMROP), is relatively well-funded and benefits from modern facilities. Agencies engaged in crop and livestock research lack sufficient funding and well-qualified scientists.
  • Fisheries research dominates agricultural R&D, and IMROP accounts for close to half of the country’s agricultural R&D expenditures and capacity.
  • Renewal of fisheries treaties between Mauritania and the EU and Japan led to a large influx of funding, enabling IMROP to expand its human resource capacity. Funding should remain secure for many years.
  • Since 2000, the country’s main agencies for crop and livestock research have seen their R&D budgets shrink. Staff training opportunities are limited and retiring researchers are not being replaced.
  • Being a sparsely populated desert country, Mauritania’s agricultural R&D capacity and investments are significantly lower than those of many West African countries, but funding is sorely needed by those agencies that support the production of food crops and efforts to mitigate rural poverty.


  • In 2008, Mauritius spent 4.1 percent of its agricultural GDP on research, which reflects the country’s high level of investment in sugarcane research. This was by far the largest share of agricultural output on R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa, where average levels are well below one percent.
  • Public agricultural R&D spending fell by almost 25 percent from 2001–08, mainly due to declining expenditures by the Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute (MSIRI), which is largely funded by a tax on sugar exports and was negatively affected by declining production and world sugar prices.
  • Non-sugarcane research is mainly funded by the government.
  • Total agricultural R&D capacity rose by 14 percent from 2001–08, and researchers’ average qualifications also improved, although the share of PhD-level staff is low compared with many other African countries.


  • Since the end of the civil war in 1992, Mozambique has made progress in rebuilding agricultural R&D.
  • Agricultural R&D is highly dependent on volatile donor funding and government support, which has decreased considerably, is hindered by budget restrictions and unpredictable disbursements of funds.
  • Agricultural research capacity grew steadily from 2004-08, but staff is younger and less well-qualified compared to other countries in the region and increased investment in training is greatly needed.


  • Namibia’s research agencies are relatively well-funded by the government, and foreign donors play only a marginal role in financing agricultural R&D.
  • The Directorate of Agricultural Research and Training (DART) accounted for roughly 60 percent of the country’s total agricultural R&D investments and staff in 2008.
  • Despite numerous government-funded training efforts, Namibia’s agricultural researchers are still among the least qualified in Sub-Saharan Africa and the country lacks a critical mass of PhD-qualified scientists.
  • The upcoming establishment of a National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) is likely to improve R&D investments and staff development by offering higher salaries and generating funds through its own activities. NARI will also focus more on addressing farmers’ needs.


  • The end of a World Bank-funded project in 1998 plunged Niger’s agricultural research into a severe financial crisis, from which it has yet to recover. Niger has one of the lowest rates of agricultural research investment in Africa.
  • The Niger National Institute of Agricultural Research (INRAN) accounted for roughly three-quarters of agricultural R&D staff and two-thirds of spending in 2008. Its research program is entirely donor funded and government expenditures do not even cover all of the salary costs.
  • A public sector recruitment freeze is causing the average age of researchers to soar. Attracting and training young researchers is of crucial importance to replace retiring scientists at government agencies.
  • R&D investment is expected to soon increase with the national launching of the West African Agricultural Productivity Program(WAAPP), funded by a World Bank loan, and several large projects funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
  • Sustainable funding and recruitment and training of agricultural R&D staff could have a more prominent place on Niger’s political agenda in future due to the recent establishment of a national advisory board.


  • Nigeria has the largest agricultural R&D system in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of investment and number of researchers, but agricultural R&D spending as a share of agricultural GDP remains low (0.4 percent) compared with a number of African countries.
  • Following years of serious underinvestment, R&D doubled from 2000–08, due largely to rising salaries and substantial investments to rehabilitate infrastructure and equipment, but lack of adequate facilities and equipment remains a major constraint.
  • Capacity grew significantly from 2000-08, but average qualification levels seriously declined. This shift from senior, well-qualified scientists toward more junior researchers is a disconcerting trend.
  • The higher education sector is playing an increasingly important role in agricultural R&D, but the role of nonprofit and for-profit companies remains very small.
  • Agricultural R&D is primarily funded by the national government, supplemented by donors and internally generated revenue from the sale of goods and services.


  • Agricultural R&D capacity has grown slightly since 2005 in terms of numbers of researchers. As a result of the civil war in the 1990s, staff is younger and less well-qualified relative to other countries in the region.
  • The Rwanda Agriculture Research Institute (ISAR) accounts for three-fourths of national agricultural research investments and human resource capacity. Expenditures at ISAR have remained relatively steady from 2005-09.
  • Nonprofit and for-profit private companies have minimal involvement in agricultural R&D and the country remains highly dependent on volatile donor funding.


  • Public agricultural R&D expenditures in Senegal have fallen gradually due to reduced donor support and cuts in government funding.
  • The higher education sector is playing an increasingly important role in agricultural R&D.
  • The National Agricultural and Agro-Processing Research Fund has transformed funding. All public and private agricultural R&D agencies now compete equally, prompting demand-driven research and the rationalization of operations.
  • The number of PhD-level staff substantially declined since 2004 despite large investments in research capacity. Many more well-qualified researchers will retire in the next decade, a cause for major concern.
  • Despite the erosion of human resource capacity, the country’s agricultural researchers are among some of the more highly qualified staff in West Africa.


  • Agricultural R&D expenditures more than doubled from 2001-09 following the end of a decade of civil war, which almost completely destroyed Sierra Leone’s research infrastructure.
  • Despite this increase, funding levels are still low and irregular, making rehabilitation of agricultural R&D infrastructure and research capacity difficult.
  • The government funds the vast majority of R&D, although donor support through grants and loans has been increasing since 2007, when the Sierra Leone Agricultural Research Institute (SLARI) was established.
  • SLARI, the primary agricultural research institute, is expected to operate eight research centers focusing on various commodities and research themes. As of 2009, only two of the centers were operating.
  • Agricultural R&D capacity is expected to increase in the coming years as more SLARI research centers open. Training research staff will be a key challenge, however.


  • Agricultural research in South Africa is far better funded than most Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • South Africa has one of the highest ratios in the region with regard to both spending per scientist and research intensity, or total spending on public agricultural R&D as a percentage of agricultural output.
  • The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) is by far the largest provider of agricultural research and accounts for more than one half of the country’s public agricultural research expenditures and staff.
  • Since 1997, government funding to ARC has been contracting and research staff has decreased by one-third.


  • The agricultural sector was largely neglected during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, due to a focus on large-scale oil production, and agricultural R&D investments fell precipitously during this period.
  • Public agricultural R&D investments doubled from 2001–08, but the country’s total spending as a percentage of agricultural GDP remained among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Human resource capacity increased steadily after 2000, but this capacity could erode as experienced senior scientists retire and are replaced with junior researchers who are not highly trained.
  • Agricultural R&D is largely funded by the national government and donor funding is limited.


  • Spending on agricultural R&D rose significantly in 2008 after many years of relatively low investment.
  • Agricultural research was traditionally dependent on funding from donors and development banks, but after 2004, when this funding plummeted, the government prioritized agricultural research and increased spending to bridge the gap.
  • In 2009, the government committed to developing the agricultural sector and increasing investment in all research. Agriculture and livestock research are allocated 60 percent of funding for 2010-11.
  • In July 2010, the government increased researchers’ salaries by more than 80 percent, but there is a dearth of well-qualified senior staff.
  • Despite recent positive trends, many years of underinvestment in agricultural research have taken their toll and rectifying these issues will require time and ongoing commitment.


  • During the past decade, funding for agricultural R&D in Togo has been very unstable. Since the closure of a World Bank-funded project in 2003, agricultural research has been financed largely by the government.
  • In 2008, the Togolese Agricultural Research Institute (ITRA), the main R&D agency, accounted for approximately two-thirds of agricultural research capacity and spending.
  • From 2000-08, R&D capacity decreased by one-third, mainly due to the loss of ITRA researchers who retired but were not replaced. In 2009, ITRA recruited—and is currently training—several young scientists.
  • Investment is expected to increase with the 2011 launch of the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) funded by a World Bank loan. In the long run, the government will have to ensure secure funding to avoid fluctuations in investment and capacity levels.


  • Investments in public agricultural R&D quadrupled from 1995–2008, primarily as a result of increased donor and development bank funding, along with increased government spending after 2005.
  • After recruitment restrictions were lifted in 2005 and salaries increased by 100 percent, research staff increased considerably at the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), the main R&D agency.
  • Research capacity at the major higher education institution, Makerere University, also grew in recent years, strengthening the role of this sector in agricultural R&D.
  • Despite advancements, challenges remain: agricultural R&D is dependent on donor and development bank funding, the role of the nonprofit and private sectors is small, and income from the commercialization of research is limited.


  • Zambia’s long-term trend of declining public agricultural R&D investments continued from 2001–08 due to weakened government and donor support and, in 2005, spending fell to an historic low.
  • Research staff numbers and qualification levels deteriorated from 2001–06 largely due to a government hiring freeze and limited training. In 2006, staff numbers began to rise, but mainly at the junior level.
  • The government is the main funder of agricultural R&D—supplemented by limited support from foreign donors and development banks—but spending is largely allocated to salaries and overhead.
  • Despite some recent positive developments, years of underinvestment in agricultural R&D have taken their toll on Zambia’s agencies, such as the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), and they continue to struggle with funding issues that hinder their performance.


  • Agricultural R&D has been significantly constrained by the country’s economic decline over the past decade and, since 2003, most donors have suspended agricultural R&D funding.
  • Spending and researcher levels at Zimbabwe’s main agricultural research agency, the Department of Research and Specialist Services (DR&SS), have declined considerably since 2003.
  • The share of researchers at DR&SS with MSc and PhD qualifications, at only 15 percent, is very low compared to other major agricultural R&D agencies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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