A study on the impact of agricultural research on productivity and poverty in sub_Saharan Africa (SSA) shows that agricultural research is reducing the number of poor people in the region by 2.3 million annually.
The study, authored by Arega Alene and Ousmane Coulibaly of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), finds that the estimated aggregate rate of return from agricultural research runs as high as 55%.
However, the researchers add 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 Food Policy Journal, further demonstrates that doubling investments in agricultural research and development in SSA from the current US$650 million could reduce poverty by two percentage points every year.
â€œHowever, this would not be realized without more efficient extension, credit, and input supply systems,â€ says Alene.
The researchers also established that agricultural research had contributed significantly to productivity growth in SSA.
Highest payoffs to agricultural research were found in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia, and were attributable to sustained national research investments with modest research capacity, long_term CGIAR operations, and regional technology spillovers.
International agricultural research by the CGIAR contributed about 56% of the total poverty reduction impact in the region. According to the study, in view of the significant long_term research investments and demonstrated successes in SSA, the reduction in poverty attributed to IITAâ€™s research within the CGIAR ranges from 500,000 to one million poor people per year.
Despite the contribution of agricultural research and development, the study notes that SSA also faces several constraints outside the research system that hinder the realization of potential research benefits. The study singled out weak extension systems, lack of efficient credit and input supply systems, and poor infrastructure development.
The study concludes that efforts aimed at improving the functioning of extension, credit, and input supply systems could significantly contribute to reducing poverty even more when coupled with effective agricultural research.