Agricultural productivity and growth hold a key to poverty reduction in Africa. Agricultural growth has a significant impact on the rest of the economy. Africa’s leaders see agriculture as an engine for poverty reduction and overall economic development.
Agricultural Research and development (R&D) in Africa is primarily funded by national governments and donors with variations across countries. Some countries continue to be highly donor dependent while others are funded through government budget allocations.
Although a number of countries have increased their support to agricultural R&D, overall investment levels in most African countries remain below the levels required to sustain viable agricultural R&D programs that address current and future priorities. Africa’s gross expenditure on research and development as a proportion of GDP stands at about 0.5 per cent compared to the world average of 2.2 per cent. Mobilizing domestic political and financial support for agricultural R&D has been difficult. One reason for this is the inherently long time lag between investing in research and attaining tangible benefits. Another reason is that evidence of high payoffs to agricultural R&D in Africa is limited. Alene (2010) finds a 10-year lag between agricultural R&D expenditure growth and agricultural productivity growth.
Many studies on changes in agricultural productivity among African countries have also studied the determining factors. While a number of factors are identified by the different authors, many of the findings stress the critical importance of investment in R&D systems. However, spending on agricultural research as a share of each country’s agricultural gross domestic product (AgGDP) is very low, with ratios ranging from less than 0.2 percent to 4.0 percent.
- Famers themselves, private sectors and others stakeholders should be the key actors in securing funding for R&D on the continent.
- Countries generally attain the 1 per cent target of GDP for research and innovation when business-financed research and development surpasses publicly-funded research and development.
In the view of above and to respond to the Head of States and Government Decision on allocation at least 1% GDP on research, AU-SAFGRAD organised a webinar on the innovative financing mechanism for Agriculture and Development in Africa. The aim of this video conference was to discuss the strategies on how we mobilise alternative financing mechanism to support research activities at country level and to learn from countries like South Africa that have succeeded to engage more business sector on board.
The webinar was an exchange and experience sharing among NARS, SROs, CGIARs, RECs and UN agencies on a national tangible funding mechanism to support R&D on the continent. A particular focus will be given to the innovative funding that goes along with the traditional channel More specifically, the objectives of the conference included discussion on the followings:
- Analysis of trends, challenges, and opportunities for agricultural funding in Africa ;
- Mobilization of greater government support for agricultural R&D;
- Promotion of regional cooperation;
- Inform policy how to facilitate private-sector participation
- Establish and/or strengthen national agencies responsible for mobilizing the funding for agricultural research and development
- Encourage technology commercialization
- Innovation and technology hubs and poles (Centres of Excellence) as tools for raising research and development expenditure.