Fostering Human Capital in Agricultural R&D: Challenges and Opportunities for Small African Countries


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Presentation by Nienke Beintema at the event, “2013 AAEA & CAES Joint Annual Meeting” which took place on August 4-6, 2013 in Washington, DC. It offers AAEA members, CAES members, and other applied economists a chance to interact and learn over the course of the three day meeting.

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Fostering Human Capital in Agricultural R&D: Challenges and Opportunities for Small African Countries

  1. 1. AAEA Conference Session “Human Capital Needs of a Modernizing Agriculture: Challenges and Possible Solutions” Washington, D.C.| August 6, 2013 Fostering Human Capital in Agricultural R&D Challenges and Opportunities for Small African Countries Nienke Beintema ASTI program head | International Food Policy Research Institute
  2. 2. Context / Outline • Human resources remain one of the more serious constraints facing African agricultural R&D, and situation may become more severe • Focus of presentation:  General researcher trends  Current challenges  New developments  Recommendations Builds on previous datasets and analysis (new update available in 1-2 months)
  3. 3. Long-term human capacity trends (1971-2011) Drivers of 2001-008 growth Source: Beintema and Stads 2011. • Overall, human capacity in public agricultural R&D increased by about 20 percent during 2001-08
  4. 4. Challenge: Fragmentation (2008) Indicators 33 African countries Brazil China India* US Number of public agricultural research agencies 353 130 1,105 167 51 Number of public agricultural researchers (FTEs) 10,965 4,633 ±70,000 11,217 9,965 Average researchers per agency 31 36 63 67 195 Share of researchers with PhD degrees 30% 75% <30% 86% 100 Source: Updated from Flaherty 2011. Notes: Data for India is for 2009 and PhD degree share includes only ICAR institutes.
  5. 5. Challenge: Small-country issue (1) • Most small countries are characterized by low research capacity, low investment, and vulnerability to funding volatility • Population: Under 10 million • Capacity: Under 100 full-time equivalent (FTE) agricultural researchers • Investment: Under 10 million PPP dollars in agricultural research • For example, Cape Verde, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Mauritania, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Togo Source: Adapted from Flaherty 2011.
  6. 6. Challenge: Small-country issue (2) • Small countries have diverse institutional actors • Consolidation into one organization is often not advisable • Narrowing the scope of national research is difficult given policy demands and changes in the agricultural and natural resource sectors • The smaller the system, the more complex the functions it will perform • Many countries will never be able to afford comprehensive research systems Source: Adapted from Flaherty 2011 and USAID 2013.
  7. 7. Challenge: Decreasing qualifications • Shares of BSc-qualified staff have increased in some countries since 2000 24% 27% 47% 43% 29% 30% 0 20 40 60 80 100 2001 2008 SharesofFTEresearchers(%) BSc MSc PhD Source: Beintema and Stads 2011.
  8. 8. Capacity challenge: High staff turnover • Staff departures and an aging pool of well-qualified researchers remain major areas of concern for many countries 0 20 40 60 80 100 ISRA Senegal KARI Kenya ZARI Zambia Retirement Death Resignation Transfer/leave Sharesofdepartedresearchers(%) BSc MSc PhD ARC, South Africa 39.9 40.8 48.5 43.4 ISRA, Senegal — 55.7 47.3 49.6 KARI, Kenya 41.6 45.1 49.5 45.1 ZARI, Zambia 36.4 42.0 50.0 39.7 NARI Degree Total Average age of researchers, 2010 Source: Sene et al 2011.
  9. 9. Challenge: Limited training opportunities • During 1970s and 1980s, many countries received considerable donor support for staff training abroad but by the late 1990s, many donors had cut/eliminated funding for training • SSA universities have been facing a number of constraints such as increased workloads, which has affected quality of teaching and student supervision • Large influx of young less-qualified researchers combined with staff turnover has strained the capacity of institutions to provide adequate mentoring by senior researchers
  10. 10. But there are some positive developments • Growth in private universities has created new training opportunities • Changes in governance have facilitated greater autonomy for universities and allowed tuition fees to be adjusted • Students have pressured universities to improve the quality of the training provided • Donor organizations have acknowledged the importance of capacity strengthening and increased funding • A wide number of successful regional initiatives and platforms have been established
  11. 11. Recommendations • Halt the prevailing high turnover of agricultural scientists through a series of measures • Strengthen institutional capacity to create an enabling environment • Focus on capacity building that facilitate adaptation of existing technologies from elsewhere • Increase financial support by governments and donor organizations • Develop innovative training methods • Scale up existing training initiatives/networks • Strengthen partnerships within Africa, South-South, and with the CGIAR
  12. 12. THANK YOU