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Agricultural R&D Expenditure in Africa: An Analysis of Growth and Volatility

Gert-Jan Stads and Nienke Beintema
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Gert-Jan Stads: International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington DC, USA

The European Journal of Development Research, 2015, vol. 27, issue 3, 406 pages

Abstract: Agricultural research and development (R&D) investment is positively associated with high returns, but these returns take time – often decades – to develop. Consequently, the inherent lag from the inception of research to the adoption of new technologies calls for sustained and stable R&D funding. This article introduces a quantitative measure to assess volatility in agricultural R&D spending. It reveals that agricultural R&D spending in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has been substantially more volatile than in other developing regions, which is the consequence of low levels of government funding, coupled with a high dependence on short-term and ad hoc donor and development bank funding. Rather than relying too much on external funding, SSA governments need to clearly identify long-term priorities, design focused and coherent agricultural R&D programmes accordingly, and commit sufficient funding for their implementation, while donor funding needs to be better aligned with national priorities. Moreover, diversification of funding sources is needed to better absorb funding shocks.

Date: 2015
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