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Aligning and Rationalizing Institutional Structures of Agricultural R&D


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By Yusuf Abubakar. …

By Yusuf Abubakar.
Presented at the ASTI-FARA conference Agricultural R&D: Investing in Africa's Future: Analyzing Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities - Accra, Ghana on December 5-7, 2011.

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  • 1. ASTI/IFPRI–FARA CONFERENCE AGRICULTURAL R&D: INVESTING IN AFRICA ’ S FUTURE Analyzing Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities
    • SESSION 6:
    • Discussant: Yusuf Abubakar
    • (Executive Secretary)
    • Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN)
  • 2. OUTLINE
    • Role of Agriculture and its New Challenges
    • Organization of Agricultural Research and challenges
    • New Paradigms in Agricultural Research and Development
    • Investment in Agricultural Research
    • Regionalization of Agricultural Research
    • Concluding Comments
  • 3. 1. Role of Agriculture and its New Challenges
    • Agriculture is a major contributor to economic growth in Africa
      • vast majority of the African countries are agriculture-based
      • agriculture contributes over 25% to GDP and
      • 50% or more of the economically active people involved in agriculture.
    • South Africa, Botswana & most of N/Africa have different economic structure
      • Agriculture contributes less than 10% to GDP in these countries.
    • Despite diversity of socio-economic, ecological conditions & different agricultural systems agriculture-based countries share some generic features.
    • Agricultural growth is a condition sine-qua-non for economic development in Africa in agriculture-based countries.
  • 4. … Role of Agriculture and its New Challenges
    • To achieve the 1 st MDG African countries have set a target of 6 % AGDP growth.
    • Through CAADP, African governments set to raise agricultural productivity by 6% per year and the value added of the agricultural sector to GDP by 4 – 5 % a year.
    • New challenges
    • Agricultural development in Africa is challenged by the complex and unpredictable influence of:
      • Globalization and regionalization
      • Protection of domestic and regional markets
      • Marginalization
      • Climate change .
    • Accelerated growth requires more radical innovation in various areas, and at different scales.
  • 5. 2. Organization of Agricultural Research and challenges
    • Most public agricultural research is organized along national lines.
    • Countries in SSA have a complex array of institutes responsible for planning, funding and implementing agricultural R&D activities (NARIs, IARCs, FOs, NGOs, CBOs).
      • Government research agencies represent 81% of total research capacity of African NARS.
      • Universities contribute 18%
      • Private and non-profit sectors as the remaining 1%.
    • Agricultural research systems in most SSA countries are characterized by low capacity and vulnerability to funding volatility.
      • Only one-third of SSA researchers are qualified to the PhD-degree level, whereas three-quarters of Indian researchers and all of American researchers are PhD-qualified.
  • 6. … . Organization of Agricultural Research and challenges
    • The challenges small countries face in agricultural research include:
      • Limited in their ability to take advantage of economies of scale and scope
      • Difficult to maintain the required core staff capacity to ensure programmatic and operational continuity
      • Lack of in-country degree programs
      • Vulnerable to funding fluctuations.
    • Small-country agricultural research systems generally thought of as vulnerable and unviable, lacking both capacity and resources.
    • The recommended solution was a consolidated research institution focused primarily on the adoption and adaptation of borrowed technology.
    • Despite challenges, small-country research systems in SSA should not be considered unviable as world-class research programs are found in small countries & their small size can be an advantage
  • 7. 3. New Paradigms in Agricultural Research and Development
    • With reduced funding, agricultural R&D systems are forced to raise questions about their continuing relevance, approaches, accountability and impact.
    • With the financial and other constraints facing agricultural research in countries of SSA, there is a need for paradigm shift in the way we manage and conduct agricultural research.
    • This shift has already started and the R&D processes within the agricultural sector in SSA are currently influenced by four concepts and principles:
        • Innovation Systems Perspective (ISP);
        • Value Chain (VC) and Value Chain Analysis (VCA);
        • impact orientation; and
        • Integrated Research for Development (IR4D).
    • These paradigms are impact oriented and complementary .
  • 8. … . New Paradigms in Agricultural Research and Development
    • In the Agricultural Innovation System perspective and its dimensions “Research converts money into knowledge and innovation converts knowledge into money”.
    • Using ‘a three legged stool’ to illustrate the innovation process and role of research, the 3 critical elements in the innovation process are:
        • Education or knowledge
        • Ability to translate (realize) the knowledge into real products & services
        • The ability to communicate (market) the ideas to the world
      • A platform is needed to hold the legs - end users & something to support the stool (the government, society, institutes & institutions). If any of the five elements change, the overall system may become unstable.
    • The activities involved in the stages of the innovation process are :
        • invention;
        • translation/realization;
        • commercialization and
        • utilization
  • 9. … . New Paradigms in Agricultural Research and Development
    • To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economic cost and must satisfy a specific need.
    • The single most important feature for innovation to occur is understanding the users ’ needs and translating it into action across all functional areas.
    • ISP does not undermine the value of research, good communication or effective extension services. These are necessary preconditions.
    • The IS idea does not provide one generic model for innovation as there is no uniform theory of innovation.
    • As we progress from knowledge and technology generation to innovation, the roles and responsibilities of individual actors change. This needs to be recognized and acknowledged by all R&D practitioners.
    • Institutionalizing such a perspective in the AR4D system offers both opportunities and challenges.
  • 10. 4. Investment in Agricultural Research
    • Public investment in Agricultural Research in SSA is low – most countries invest less than $25million purchasing power parity (PPP) dollars per year.
    • This low investment negatively affects the infrastructure, research equipment, quantity and quality of research staff as well as the research output.
    • Private sector can and are already playing an important role in Agricultural Research and Development in SSA.
    • Governments can encourage more private technology introduction by continuing to liberalize:
        • allowing local and foreign firms to enter;
        • providing firms with a stable policy and regulatory environment;
        • strengthening IPR;
        • and stopping taxing agriculture.
        • bio-safety regulations that allowed the use of safe GMOs
  • 11. 5. Regionalization of Agricultural Research
    • Most public agricultural research is organized along national lines
    • The impact of a part of the public agricultural research effort does not stop at ‘artificial’ national borders.
      • The same knowledge and technology can be used at both sides of the border if not across multiple countries - ‘spillovers’
    • Many countries in Africa have small economies and face limited capacities and resources to undertake their own basic research
    • The need for greater regionalization of R&D is well recognized among national R&D systems, as evident in the establishment of FARA, ASARECA and CORAF/WECARD.
    • SROs have grappled with the problem of country buy-in and funding, but have gradually secured regional cooperation around CAADP and FAAP.
  • 12. … . Regionalization of Agricultural Research
    • One of the largest sources of finance for agricultural research in SSA is the World Bank, which has also taken a regional approach.
    • Two sub-regional based programs, EAAPP and WAAPP have already begun operations, with a similar program proposed for Southern Africa.
    • These regional programs mark a change in approach by the World Bank in terms of financing agricultural research in SSA.
    • So far, these sub-regional programs have not directly funded research in the smaller countries of SSA, but in 2011 a number were selected for the next phase of WAAPP
    • Sub-regional cooperation in research will help promote regional integration as well as increase productivity but there are still questions
  • 13. 6. Concluding Comments
    • There is limited emperical evidence of the application of AIS, it’s utility and value addition.
    • The innovation process is evolutionary, takes time and needs long-term commitment by all actors.
    • Are innovation platforms(commodity focused) sustainable? Are macro platforms more viable?
    • Shortage of well trained scientists is a major constraint to the growth of private sector R & D in all African countries. Which way forward (ACI, WACCI, CCAI)?
  • 14.
    • Returns on investment for advisory services are not immediate and somewhat uncertain and their establishment is very costly. Are they justifiable?
    • Key limitation is high transaction cost-many inst. And admin. barriers to manage & coordinate.
    • Funding of FARA and SRO’s still largely based on donor support. Can the REC’s come to the rescue? What is the role of AU?
    … Concluding Comments
  • 15. … ...