Recent developments in agricultural research

Agricultural R&D expenditures in Tanzania rose significantly in 2008 after many years of relatively low investment. That year, investment reached 31 billion Tanzanian shillings or 78 million PPP dollars (both in 2005 constant prices) compared with a low of 12 billion shillings or 29 million PPP dollars in 2005. Prior to 2005, spending was highly dependent on donor funding, which fluctuated considerably from year to year. Donor funding plummeted after the 2004 conclusion of a large-scale World Bank loan-funded project. Thereafter the Tanzanian government made a clear policy commitment to the agricultural sector and agricultural research, increasing its funding over time to bridge the gap. In 2009, a government initiative was launched with high-level political support to develop the country’s agricultural sector. Under this initiative, public research investment is expected to increase to 1 percent of GDP across all research sectors, meaning that agriculture and livestock research would receive 60 percent of the 30 billion shillings allocated to research for fiscal year 2010/11 (in current prices). Also, effective July 2010, the government reformed the conditions of researchers’ service by increasing their salaries by more than 80 percent.

DRD and DRTE are the main agricultural research agencies in Tanzania and together they account for well over half of the country’s agricultural research expenditures and research staffing. Expanded capacity in the higher education sector has strengthened the role of universities in the performance of public agricultural R&D. Capacity growth, however, has not been accompanied by improved researcher qualifications. A dearth of training programs, along with a hiring freeze from 1992 to 2002, has resulted in a lack of well-qualified senior staff. Additional issues, such as the need for infrastructure maintenance and development, and the lack of timely and complete disbursement of budgeted funding, pose constraints to effective research. While investment levels appear to be following a positive trend, many years of underinvestment in agricultural research in Tanzania have taken their toll on the country’s agricultural research agencies. Rectifying these issues will require time and ongoing commitment.

Flaherty, Kathleen
Lwezaura, Deogratias
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Department of Research and Development (DRD)
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