Zambia’s agricultural research sector has undergone significant reform in recent years in attempts to increase effectiveness, cut costs, build capacity, attract new sources of funding—especially from the private sector—and ultimately reach out to and support small farmers, who dominate the country’s agricultural sector. These changes were largely effected through two consecutive World Bank projects.

Certain undertakings did not have the desired effect, such as reducing staffing levels at SCRB in attempts to enhance working conditions and raise salary levels per researcher to compete with other national agencies for well-qualified staff. Without the appropriate training and competitive salary packages, SCRB’s research staff was halved in the 1990s, leaving the branch with a high proportion of vacant positions.
A related negative outcome was reduced donor funding to established government agencies like SCRB in favor of smaller, often project-based support, which cut the country’s overall public funding for agricultural research to unsustainable levels. On the other hand, the establishment of four research trusts in the late 1990s (GART, CDT, LDT, and LADT) has proven successful in encouraging public–private partnerships, improving the cost-effectiveness and efficiency of research, and developing opportunities for nongovernment funding.

Beintema, Nienke M.
Castelo-Magalhaes, Eduardo
Elliott, Howard
Mwala, Mick
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International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
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