Recent developments in agricultural research

Agricultural R&D investment and human resource capacity have both grown since the early 1990s in Ethiopia. Agricultural research spending doubled between 1993 and 2000, and then doubled again during 2000–01. The 2008 value of investment at 157 million birr or 70 million PPP dollars (both in 2005 constant prices), although lower than in 2001–02, was still significantly higher than 1990s levels. The increased expenditures were driven by considerable growth in both government and donor funding, and in particular the World Bank–loan financed project ARTP.

Nevertheless, despite the expenditure growth of the 1990s and early 2000s, by 2008 investments had contracted to levels similar to those recorded in 2000. The 2008 agricultural intensity ratio of $0.27 is one of the lowest ratios in the region, and funding remains highly dependent on donors and development bank loans. Delays in the disbursement of funds also present a significant challenge to the effective management of research expenditures.

The RARIs and many of the higher education agencies have expanded significantly since 2000, strengthening their role in Ethiopian agricultural R&D. In contrast, growth at EIAR was not sustained beyond 2001–04. The recent government initiative BPR brought about major changes in the structure of the country’s agricultural R&D agencies, the effects of which will not be known for a number of years. Ethiopia’s agricultural research agencies have some of the lowest levels of postgraduate qualifications in the region. Although the seven RARIs combined now employ more research staff than EIAR, these staff members are less well qualified in terms of postgraduate degrees. In addition, female participation in agricultural R&D remains low. The challenges of training staff, providing competitive salaries, and properly equipping the expanded agricultural research agencies should be primary areas of focus in the coming years.

Flaherty, Kathleen
Kelemework, Fasil
Kelemu, Kaleb
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR)
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