Agricultural research uplifts lives

A yam trader happily showing off his ware. With appropriate agricultural infrastructure, input, and policy support, Africa can indeed feed itself. Photo by IITA.
A yam trader happily showing off his ware. With appropriate agricultural infrastructure, input, and policy support, Africa can indeed feed itself. Photo by IITA.

A study on the impact of agricultural research on productivity and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) that we completed this year has shown that agricultural research has a direct positive impact on poverty, reducing the number of poor people in the region by as much as 2.3 million annually.

According to the study, in view of the long-term research investments and demonstrated successes in SSA, our own R4D work is helping uplift the lives of about 500,000 to one million poor people in the region per year.

The study, authored by Arega Alene, Impact Assessment Economist, and Ousmane Coulibaly, Agricultural Economist, also estimated that the aggregate rate of return to agricultural research in the region runs as high as 55 percent.

However, the study cautions that the actual impacts are not large enough to offset the poverty-increasing effects of population growth and environmental degradation in the region.

The study, which has been published in the journal Food Policy, further demonstrated that doubling investments in agricultural R&D in SSA from the current US$650 million annually could reduce poverty in the region by two percentage points per year. However, the study adds that this projected drop in poverty would not be realized unless existing extension, credit, and input supply systems become more efficient.

The study also established that agricultural research had contributed significantly to productivity growth in SSA, with the highest payoffs noted in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia. This is attributed to sustained investments in building national research capacity, long-term operations of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), North Face Jacket Sale UK and regional technology spillovers. Work by the CGIAR contributed about 56% of the total poverty reduction impact in the sub-region.

Despite the contributions of agricultural research, the study notes that SSA faces several unique constraints outside the research realm that hinder the realization of potential benefits. It singled out weak extension systems, lack of efficient credit and input supply systems, and poor infrastructure development. The study recommended that concerned entities undertake efforts to improveNorth Face Sale these systems and related infrastructure, and increase investments in agricultural research, to further reduce poverty in SSA.

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