African political and scientific leaders have set a target to increase agricultural output by 6 percent a year for the next 20 years. Improvements in total factor productivity are expected to contribute about 3 percent to this, with the remainder coming from increased investment. But even achieving a 3 percent annual growth rate of total factor productivity will be challenging. In no region of the world has total factor productivity increased over a sustained period of time by more than 2.5 percent per year. It will require larger investments in agricultural research, extension and education systems; and institutional reforms that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the spending on research and extension.
This chapter proposes a new framework that will result in increased and more stable funding for research institutions and programmes. It also recommends institutional reforms that promote a pluralistic and integrated system of agricultural research, extension and education that are responsive and accountable to farmers, agribusinesses, consumers and other stakeholders. The proposals build on the lessons learned from the Special Programme for African Agricultural Research (SPAAR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and many others, during efforts to help revitalise African agricultural research.
In addition to promoting a reform agenda, this chapter also draws attention to specific research themes for NEPAD agriculture. The NEPAD research programme will be comprised of four sub themes that will collectively contribute to testing the central hypothesis: "that conservation and efficiency of use of soil and other natural resources will be optimised under conditions of market and/or policy and institution driven productivity". The four research themes are:
In addition, a cross-cutting initiative is also proposed:
The main thrust of the NEPAD Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), as reflected in Chapters 2 to 4, is to emphasise those investments and interventions that can most rapidly reverse Africa's current state of crisis in terms of raising that region's production. This is to be based on the existing technologies, capacities and policy as well as institutional frameworks. The potential of Africa to produce and trade more can, however, be enhanced beyond the present levels if conditions are made more enabling and the search for such change must remain part of the longer-term agenda for agricultural development.
One part of the essential enabling conditions is adoption of appropriate technologies derived from research and development and supported by effective means to ensure adoption. It was with this in mind that the 9th June 2002 meeting of African Ministers of Agriculture in Rome recommended that agricultural research be incorporated into the CAADP and suggested other measures to enable research play its part.
Unlike in other regions of the world, productivity of agriculture per worker in Africa has declined during the past twenty years. Value-added per worker averaged just US$365 during the 1990s (constant 1995 US$). This is 12 percent lower than in 1980, when value-added per worker stood at US$424. Average incomes per person also stagnated during the 1990s at just US$540, compared with US$629 in 1980 (constant 1995 US$). Raising the productivity of agriculture per worker can make a critical contribution to economic growth and alleviation of poverty by generating the surpluses that can be used for investment in agricultural and non-agricultural activities. Most of the countries in the world that have grown rapidly during the past 50 years have also experienced strong increases in agricultural productivity per worker.
Agricultural yields have also been level or falling for many crops in many countries of Africa. Significantly, yields of most important food grains, tubers and legumes (maize, millet, sorghum, yams, cassava, groundnuts) in most African countries are no higher today than in 1980. Cereal yields average 1,120 kilograms per hectare, compared with 2,067 kilograms per hectare for the world as a whole. Low productivity has seriously eroded the competitiveness of African agricultural products on world markets. Africa's share of total world agricultural trade fell from 8 percent in 1965 to 3 percent in 1996. Low productivity is the result of low investment in all the factors that contribute to agricultural productivity and effective use of available resources. To correct the problem will require Africa to significantly increase investment in agriculture. This in turn requires that the profitability of agricultural investments be increased and so made more attractive.
Increasing spending on agricultural research and extension can make a critical contribution to stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty in challenge in Africa. Investment in agricultural research and extension is a key factor in increasing agricultural productivity and thereby helping to stimulate growth, generate income, and reduce poverty. Growth in agricultural productivity can serve as an engine of growth for the economy by raising the incomes of producers who then spend the resources on rural non-tradable goods and services, such as housing. According to studies carried out in Africa, adding $1 of new farm income results in a total increase of household income of US$2-3. By reducing the price of food, growth in agricultural productivity raises purchasing power thereby boosting the effective real incomes of consumers. Growth of agricultural output can also help to reduce child malnutrition at a rate of about half the original growth rate in productivity.
Research is justified by its high payoff: one study using data from Africa found that spending on agricultural research generated high payoffs in the region, with each dollar spent generating a median internal rate of return of 37 percent. Research on pearl millet, maize, sorghum, potatoes, beans, wheat and cowpeas has generated returns ranging from 16 percent to 135 percent. Another study - this one in India - examined the roles of various public interventions in promoting agricultural growth and poverty alleviation and revealed that government investment in agricultural research and extension had a larger impact on economic growth than spending on other rural programmes, such as rural roads, irrigation, rural electrification, soil and water conservation, education, and health. Moreover, it had an impact on reducing poverty, second in significance only to rural roads.
Public spending for agricultural research in Africa stagnated in the 1980s and the 1990s at about US$1,200 million per year, slightly higher than the level reached in 1976 (Figure 1). This contrasts to the situation of the 1960s and 1970s when public spending on agricultural research more than doubled, from about US$360 million in 1961 to US$993 million in 1976.
Source: Pardey and Beintema, 2001.
Public spending on agricultural research in Africa in comparison to agricultural GDP has also declined, from a peak in 1981 of 0.93 percent to 0.69 percent in 1991. By contrast, public spending in industrial countries on agricultural research amounted to about 2.4 percent of agricultural GDP in 1991.
Unlike in other regions, the private sector is not increasing its research efforts in Africa as government spending declines. With a share of about 2 percent of total spending, the private sector plays an exceptionally small role in funding agricultural research in Africa. This is not likely to change soon because the potential profits from conducting research on important crops in Africa are not sufficiently high to attract the interest of either domestic or international private firms. In industrial countries, private enterprises fund over 50 percent of agricultural research.
Why has support for agricultural research and extension in Africa declined, given its high payoffs? Reductions in government support for agricultural research and extension reflect in part pressures on African governments to reduce spending generally. But spending on agricultural research has also declined in proportion to total government spending, as priorities have shifted and governments question the value of research and extension given the lack of improvement in agricultural productivity in Africa. Similarly, donor support to agricultural research has declined because of shifting priorities, until very recently, away from agricultural production to environmental protection, health, education, water and sanitation, and the like. Many people question the need for continued public funding of agricultural research and extension, thinking that the world's food problems are solved, are constrained by matters other than research systems or extension services, or that the private sector will do the job. It is necessary to correct these perceptions and to maintain and increase support to these services, which are fundamental to maintain competitiveness of agricultural economies.
In addition to being inadequate, resources for agricultural research systems and extension services are in many countries not being used effectively. Several factors appear to be important in explaining why.
Available resources for national agricultural research systems are spread too thinly over too many staff and programmes
Even while funding for agricultural research stagnated in the 1980s and early 1990s, the number of scientists of national agricultural research systems (NARS) and the scope of their activities continued to grow. To meet rising staff costs, many NARS have been forced to cut non-wage operating expenses, starving programmes of the many goods and services they need to be effective: laboratory supplies, equipment, spare parts, training, maintenance, fuel, and the like. However, these funds have not been adequate to maintain salaries at reasonable levels, leading to an increase in absenteeism as scientists take up other jobs to supplement their income. As a result, performance of research systems has suffered.
Regional and sub-regional collaboration in research programmes is not fully exploited
Although the move towards regional and sub-regional collaboration and integration has been strong in Africa, the scope for doing more is considerable. Funding of regional research activities still amounts to less than 2 percent of total spending on agricultural research. In a context of stable or declining resources, greater regional and sub-regional co-operation would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural research in Africa. Linking NARS together within larger networks and strengthening partnerships with advanced research institutes and CGIAR centres would allow each national institute to specialise in a few areas of research, while benefiting from the research of others. This would enable NARS to benefit from economies of scale and to eliminate much wasteful, duplicative research.
Policies impede access to global knowledge and technology
In many countries import duties and non-tariff barriers impede the importation of seeds and improved plant stock. Quarantine laws and local rules on testing and release of agricultural technologies also slows and impedes adoption of global knowledge and technology.
Linkages between research systems, extension services, and farmers are weak
Linkages between farmers, extension agents, and research systems in Africa are weak. Often researchers have little interaction with extension services and farmers, and do not reflect their priorities in the research agenda. In some cases the national research programme is defined by donors or individual researchers and may have little relation to national objectives or farmers' needs. The lack of linkages has led in some cases to farmers' adopting less than 10 percent of the crop varieties that they are offered. In other cases, farmers never learn about new technologies developed in the research systems because effective mechanisms to transfer innovations from research to the extension system do not exist. Finally, the extension services have often failed to reach farmers because their communication strategies are not effective. Thus, extension services often miss the farmers who would benefit the most from good advice, the women farmers who are responsible for the great majority of agricultural output in most African countries.
Small farmers lack ways to reduce risks of adopting new technologies
Even when farmers recognise that new technologies will raise productivity, they are often reluctant to bear the risks associated with new approaches. Approaches are needed to reduce risks that farmers face when adopting new technologies and to increase their access to sound rural financial services, including savings, credit, insurance.
Financing of research and extension services is not sustainable
Both research and extension services in Africa depend heavily on donor funding. Contributions from donors now provide more than 40 percent of all funds for agricultural research. This is up from 28 percent in 1986 and exceeds the level of any other region. Given the fragile economies and extensive demands on the public sector in many African countries, donor support for research and extension will continue to be important for some time to come. However, African research and extension managers must start building political support for their programmes among farmers, private firms, and other beneficiaries of more productive agricultural systems. They must start diversifying their sources of funds through producer levies, contract research, joint ventures with the private firms, and the like. Finally, they must open the research and extension systems to more providers, strengthening links between universities, non-governmental organisations, private firms, and others.
The elements of sustainability are well known. They involve strengthening political commitment; diversifying sources of income; reforming institutions; and ensuring that research and extension services give priority to promoting widely-shared growth and adoption of environmentally-sound technologies.
Africa's research and extension services will not be sustainable without the strong political support of a broad coalition of stakeholders. Without the support of stakeholders, adequate funding will not be forthcoming, difficult institutional reforms will not be undertaken, and the efficiency and effectiveness of agricultural generation and adoption will not increase.
Financial sustainability of research and extension services depends on their diversifying their sources of income. In the future, both research and extension services will have to become more demand driven and generate more resources from producers, consumers, agribusinesses, and others who directly benefit from the services. Levies from the sale of commodities and income from patents are likely to be important. Many NARS will be able to generate revenues by selling farm produce; providing consulting services to producers' organisations, agribusinesses, and others; performing research under contract; entering into partnerships with private firms; and renting or selling under-utilised land and facilities. Extension institutions will provide their services under contract to farmers' groups and others. In some countries endowments and matching grant schemes may provide a stable source of finance for research and extension. Increasingly, funds will be provided on a competitive basis to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of research and extension.
Donor support is best used for developing the research infrastructure and human capital needed for long-term research and extension programmes. Donor support is also important in helping to build mechanisms for long-term financial sustainability of research and extension services.
Wide-ranging reforms are required to achieve institutional sustainability of research and extension services. With due attention to the diversity of Africa's countries and their capacity to cope with reforms that depend on assumed presence or speedy emergence of an effective private sector, both the research and extension services have potential to be opened to more providers to increase competition and thus improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of services. Strengthening linkages among researchers, extension agents, educators, and farmers is critical to increase the relevance of research and extension and to facilitate quicker adoption of better technologies by farmers. Linkages can be strengthened by involving farmers, agribusinesses, and other stakeholders in setting priorities for the research agenda and in executing and evaluating programmes. Decentralising extension services to local governments and communities and reorienting incentive systems so that providers are accountable to farmers rather than to the central authorities will help. Bringing research closer to and into farmers' fields will also build ties between research, extension, and farmers.
Establishing sound systems of management and accountability, and systematically monitoring and evaluating programmes are both critical if institutions are to improve their performance, essential in increasing support of financiers. Proficient planning and sound management of funds help guarantee that funds for research and extension are focused on priorities, and that imbalances between wage and non-wage recurrent expenditures do not arise and disrupt programmes. Good accounting systems enable managers to provide appropriate reports to the treasury, the ministry of agriculture, and other financiers showing how funds have actually been spent. This helps in attracting new funding for research and extension from both traditional and new sources. Regularly monitoring and evaluating programmes and adjusting them to improve their design and implementation increases their impact and, again, support among financiers.
Remunerating staff adequately and instituting incentive structures that reward performance are important for institutional sustainability. Otherwise staff may decide to hold other jobs even while continuing to draw a salary from the public services. They may be motivated to attend field trips, training, conferences, and the like solely to supplement their earnings. They may leave research or extension altogether. Developing ways to properly reward staff, however, may not be easy. Many public research and extension systems will need to reduce numbers of staff substantially. Moreover, increasing the remuneration of highly performing staff above the (often low) civil service levels may be difficult. In some cases establishing autonomous or semiautonomous institutions may be necessary.
About 70 percent of Africans rely on agriculture and natural resources for a part or all of their food and incomes. Yet, in many places environmental degradation and unsustainable exploitation of natural resources threaten to reduce the future productivity of agriculture and natural resources, undermining objectives to reduce poverty and increase food security. A major challenge for African countries is to ensure that agricultural growth is widely shared and does not degrade the underlying natural resource base. Research and extension services can make a powerful contribution in achieving these objectives by targeting small farmers and by generating and disseminating technologies that promote sound management of natural resources. They must make a great effort and recruit more women so as to reach women farmers and their organisations and to address the special constraints they through research and extension programmes.
It is clear what reforms are needed to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability of research and extension services. Specific reforms of national level research and extension services, and of regional and sub-regional research systems have been elaborated by FARA and its partners, from which extracts are given below.
Reforms of research institutions: The large majority of public research institutions have restructured their managerial and governance systems to become more responsive and accountable to stakeholders (clients, farmers, agribusinesses and consumers) and to introduce sound financial and accounting systems. A recent SPAAR study of the scope and depth of institutional innovations in agricultural research in 41 countries found that many were applying the principles identified as important for strengthening operations. About 95 percent of institutions were involved in regional collaboration and integration; 84 percent had strengthened linkages between research, extension and farmers; 73 percent had institutionalised a strategic planning process; 66 percent had improved their institutional and management capacity; and 39 percent had developed sustainable financing mechanisms.
Many agricultural research institutions have moved away from the classic public service model towards more market-oriented, client-responsive approaches. In Côte d'Ivoire agricultural research and extension services have been partially privatised. In Uganda responsibility for delivering extension services has been completely decentralised to local governments. In Kenya a new research outreach programme empowering farmers and their organisations in technology delivery is being piloted. In Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mali and Tanzania private firms are conducting or funding research on most commercial crops.
A growing number of semiautonomous or autonomous research institutions, including the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute, the National Agricultural Research Organisation of Uganda, the Ethiopian Agricultural Research Organisation, and the Senegal Institute for Agricultural Research, are formulating agricultural research programmes in close collaboration with farmers and agricultural extension staff to identify production constraints and adapt technologies to farmers' requirements and circumstances. Research institutions now include stakeholders (representatives of national agricultural research institutes, universities, non-governmental organisations, farmers' organisations, agribusinesses and others) on their governing boards. They are also managing their activities using principles from modern business administration to link inputs to performance and outputs. Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia have taken steps to bring their infrastructure, staff and operational costs into balance and improve incentives to researchers, rewarding those who perform at top levels.
However, these institutional reforms need to be deepened in the countries that have introduced them, and extended to countries that have not. The key reforms that need to be deepened and extended include:
Policies to encourage innovation: To encourage innovation, the following four types of policies are important:
Formulating science and technology policy: to promote innovation, facilitate trade in technology, protect the public from potential risks of new technologies, and define the expected future roles of the public and private service providers and their interaction, the comparative advantage and mandates for central, sub-national, and local research institutes, and the role of universities.
Protecting intellectual property rights: While rules about intellectual property rights (IPRs) are controversial, such rules are becoming increasingly important as the role of the private sector in international agricultural research grows and biotechnology becomes more important. Clear rules protecting IPRs are important for three main reasons. First, they encourage domestic innovation and encourage the transfer of technologies based on assurance that the recipient country will provide protection for patents and corporate health, safety, and efficacy data as well as being able to recoup their investments in proportion to their scale and risk.
Harmonising standards and regulations for seed certification and trade in plants and animals: Harmonising standards for seed certification and agricultural trade will bring significant benefits by facilitating exchange of seeds, planting materials, and animals among countries and by reducing transaction costs for firms. Harmonising standards will also foster development of a regional market for seeds, plants and animals, which will allow firms to benefit from economies of scale.
Investing in capacity building for the long term: Capacity development is a process of planned organisational change that is intended to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness, and sustainability with which an organisation pursues its strategy, accomplishes its mission, achieves its goals, and delivers value to stakeholders. Capacity development may include the acquisition of resources, but it must also include learning how to nurture, integrate, and deploy resources to achieve strategic goals. African research needs to pay great attention to all these dimensions of capacity development.
Extension institutions: Many countries have reformed their extension services to improve their relevance to farmers, and increase their efficiency, effectiveness, and impact. In many countries extension services are moving from a supply-driven approach with government as the sole provider of advice, to a much more flexible and pluralistic demand-driven system. Key reforms include decentralising administration of field extension services; improving linkages among farmers, educators, researchers, extension agents and others; and increasing the independence and flexibility of extension services by creating small and semiautonomous units within government ministries. However, more needs to be done to deepen and extend the reforms, with due sensitivity to the differing capacities and attributes of African countries to adjust. The following are particularly important:
Mechanisms to encourage farmers to adopt new technologies: Poor farmers operating on the edge of survival can ill afford to take the risks of adopting new approaches even if they correctly perceive the likely benefits. Several approaches can reduce the risks that farmers face, and thus encourage them to adopt promising technologies:
Reforms are needed to strengthen the regional and sub-regional research systems. Many of the reforms that are needed echo those required to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the NARS. The most important reforms are presented below.
Including all stakeholders in planning and collaborative activities: As for NARS, involving all key stakeholder groups in the planning and governing of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and sub-regional research systems is critical to ensure the research activities are relevant and responsive to the needs of producers, and that the activities complement rather than duplicate activities of NARS and other organisations active in agricultural research.
Achieving sustainable financing: To ensure that financing of FARA and sub-regional organisations is stable and sustainable, member countries must provide an increasing share of resources, with the long-term objective of eventually phasing out external funding. One goal is that within five years, member countries or NARS should provide all funding for core activities. External partners can facilitate the transition to self-sufficiency by channelling most of their funds for regional and sub-regional agricultural research through member countries.
Expanding use of competitive grants: Pooling resources for regional or sub-regional research and then allowing service providers to compete for funding is a promising way of boost the productivity of African agricultural research. Several programmes are already underway. With the assistance of the European Union (EU) and the USAID, the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) has established a sophisticated regional competitive fund. Le Conseil Ouest et Centre Africaine pour la Recherché et le Développement Agricoles (CORAF/WECARD) is establishing a similar fund, with assistance from the EU, France and the African Development Bank. These programmes should be expanded wherever feasible.
Building long-term capacity: As with NARS, regional and sub-regional research systems need to build capacity for the long-term. An important starting point is for regional and sub-regional organisations to examine their roles in relation to the NARS and other research providers to ensure that they address national problems and concerns and add value to ongoing national efforts. The objective for the next generation of regional and sub-regional programmes is to effectively integrate national programmes and resources through a division of labour among national institutions and programmes and through creation of integrated regional teams.
Facilitating policy dialogue between countries on technology issues: A key role of FARA and sub-regional organisations is to facilitate dialogue between countries on technology issues.
Systematically monitoring and evaluating the impacts of programmes: Systematically tracking agreed output and outcome indicators would provide research managers with the information they need to adjust programmes so that they become increasingly effective.
Increasing spending on agricultural research and extension and improving the performance and efficiency of research centres and extension services are key priorities for the new agenda set for Africa. The goal is to double the current annual spending on agricultural research in Africa within 10 years. This means spending will need to increase by an average of 7.2 percent a year during the next decade.
Current funding flows for research and extension services
The current funding framework is represented schematically in Figure 2. The current funding of research and extension in Africa operates at four distinct levels through a variety of financial instruments.
The adequacy and stability of funding have become major concerns for stakeholders. Moreover, little progress has been made in co-ordinating funding for activities at various levels, despite the improvements made in creating regional networks and programmes, and managing funding for regional activities.
Proposed new funding framework: Objectives and instruments
Goal : the goal of the proposed financing framework is to promote a research system that is efficient, effective, and has rapid and widespread impact on agricultural productivity. This will be achieved by giving farmers, agribusinesses, and other clients a much greater role in funding and governing the system. It will require increased government commitment to and leadership for agricultural research.
Objectives: the first objective of the new funding framework is to increase the level and stability of funding for agricultural research at the international, regional and sub-regional levels, and country levels. The second is to achieve a better balance in resource allocations to strengthen NARS (the weak links of the research and development system). The third is to encourage institutional reforms that will increase the impact of research, including through regional integration and harmonisation of research programmes in the three main agro-geopolitical regions of Sub-Saharan Africa and through stronger partnerships with advanced academic and research institutions.
Components: the proposed new system (represented schematically in Figure 3) will have four interrelated components:
Deepening institutional reforms to improve the impact of research: the new financing system will encourage countries to deepen and expand the ongoing institutional reforms to improve the relevance and impact of research. It will encourage institutions to be more responsive and accountable to stakeholders by (a) providing flexible financing for specific, demand-driven services to local, national, and regional stakeholder groups; (b) making greater use of competitive grants to allocate funds for research; (c) improving the monitoring and evaluation of programmes to strengthen linkages between inputs, outputs and impact; and (d) involving stakeholders in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating programmes. By financing regional and sub-regional research programmes, it will help in increasing the impact of small national research programmes. By allowing all qualified organisations to compete for funding, it will help mobilise the intellectual resources and capacity of non-governmental organisations, rural organisations, universities, and private agribusinesses as providers of research, extension and advisory services.
Who will support the new system?: a consortium of donors and governments must support the new system. A core group of funding agencies and countries must take the lead in advocating for increased funding. The new financing system must be viewed and accepted as the appropriate approach for supporting the renewed CGIAR's Africa agenda and for the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). A small portion of the multi-country IDA funds may be used for capacity building of regional and sub-regional research systems.
Implementation: it is envisaged that implementation of the proposed institutional reforms and new funding framework can proceed as follows:
The road to sustainable financing for regional and sub-regional organisations involves several steps:
Current efforts initiated by the CGIAR centres operating in Africa in collaboration with the sub-regional organisations to rationalise and align their programmes to regional needs and strategies must be consolidated and reflected in their governance and funding processes. A key objective is to establish a unique priority-setting process at the sub-regional level under the responsibility of the sub-regional organisation. Under the new partnership arrangement, programmes to build regional capacity (training and development of advanced research infrastructure) should be a high priority. Likewise, national, regional, and sub-regional organisations could draw on the system's technical and legal capacity to handle or build capacity on new or sensitive issues such as intellectual property rights and biotechnology.
The Forum for African Agricultural Research (FARA), with its member sub-regional organisations the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA), the Conseil Ouest Africain Pour la Recherche et le Developpement Agricoles/ West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF/WECARD) and Southern Africa Centre for Co-operation in Agricultural Research and Training (SACCAR) have developed a `Vision for African Agricultural research' and supported the NEPAD's call for 6 per cent annual growth in agricultural productivity in order to stem and reverse the decline in food production and incomes of the rural poor in Africa.
This vision has been adopted by FARA in its strategy for catalysing innovation and change in agricultural research in Africa (FARA 2002). In May 2001, FARA, its sub-regional members and the CGIAR centres issued `The Durban Statement' reconfirming their full support for the African Vision and called "on the international research system, including the CGIAR Centres and advanced research institutions to forge more effective and efficient partnerships with African NARS and achieve greater programmatic integration"
Africa's natural resources are rapidly being degraded because the required increased production is being derived from extensification because markets are not rewarding intensive management. This degradation is manifested most noticeably in deforestation, genetic erosion and soil degradation, and particularly loss of organic matter, under agricultural and pastoral use. This degradation influences many other resources and environmental services of importance to sustainable development. It leads to serious distortions in the hydrological balance, impaired access to water resources, continuing loss of plant genetic resources and encouragement of noxious weed populations. In extreme cases, the loss is irreversible, resulting in the extinction of races of precious indigenous food crops and other useful plants. It is estimated that about 0.7 percent of forests in Africa are lost each year. Degradation of cropland is severe in Africa, affecting more than 65 percent of cropped area. Degradation of pastureland is also severe, affecting 31 percent. The loss to the continent's economy from these sources is incalculable.
Soil degradation indicated by nutrient depletion and loss of organic matter, resulting from erosion and extraction and loss in excess of return, has direct negative influence on agricultural productivity. This may be the single most important constraint to food security in Africa. Despite proposals for a diversity of solutions and the investment of much time and resources by a wide range of institutions it remains an intransigent problem.
There is growing acceptance that the agricultural research problems remain intractable because of the failure to deal with the issue in a sufficiently holistic way. For example, soil fertility decline is not a simple problem of nutrient depletion but interacts pervasively over time with a wide range of other biological and socio-economic constraints to sustainable agro-ecosystem management. It is thus also a problem of inappropriate germplasm and cropping system design, of interactions with pests and diseases, of the build up of noxious weeds that reach chronic proportion and are difficult to control such as striga, of the linkage between poverty and land degradation, of often, perverse national and global policies with respect to incentives, and of institutional failures. Tackling agricultural research issues thus requires a long-term perspective and holistic approach of the kind embodied in the concepts of integrated agricultural research that embraces the full range of driving factors and consequences of soil degradation - biological, physical, chemical, social, economic and political and a strong emphasis on understanding and seeking to manage the processes that contribute to change.
Africa faces two major challenges. The first is to ensure that its natural resources serve as the basis for economic growth that will result in more active and sustainable participation in the global economy. The second is to ameliorate the degradation of the natural resources and erosion of biodiversity in order to improve systems' resilience. These challenges are made all the more daunting by the fact that it is not sufficient to simply stop the degradation. Consistent efforts must be made in the short- to medium-term to build up the resources to levels never before attained in order to meet the demands of a population growing at more than 3 percent a year.
As labour is one of the principal inputs to agricultural productivity in smallholder farming systems in Africa anything that can be done to improve its efficiency will improve livelihoods and any reduction in drudgery (less hoeing and hand shelling post-harvest which are often women's work) will facilitate human and social capital acquisition. This will require development of appropriate training materials and aids for both households and artisans.
The NEPAD agricultural research programme will address the need to make the paradigm shift away from a silver bullet and principally commodity-driven technological package approach to a truly integrated agricultural research approach and to ensuring that researchers (national and international) work together with smallholders and extension agencies, the private sector and NGOs to have impact on the ground. The Programme's governance and funding mechanisms will be organised through FARA and its members, ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SADC/SACCAR, to provide incentives for scientists to make fundamental changes rather than presenting old approaches in a new ways. The Programme will reflect the urgency of achieving intensification at rates in excess of population growth
Goal: The partners in agricultural research see their role in Africa by the year 2020 as having contributed to the goals of the African agricultural research community of attaining food security and poverty alleviation through research, policy support and capacity building based on the environmentally sound management of natural resources.
Purpose: To overcome the constraints to sustainable use of Africa's natural resources with improved technologies and policies that will enable resource-poor smallholders and livestock producers in Africa to achieve sustainable improvements in their livelihoods and thereby secure the future of Africa's children.
Objectives: (i) to design technologies, policies and institutional options that provide solutions to the acceleration of poverty and resources degradation in the Africa (ii) to test the adoptability of these options in a totally participatory and iterative fashion, from farm to regional scale (iii) to develop appropriate mechanisms for the wide scale dissemination and adoption of the technologies and for implementation of sustainable and supportive policy and institutional options (iv) to empower resource-poor farmers in Africa to manage their natural resources and systems in a sustainable manner in the face of change.
The selected themes originate from a consultative process. Initiation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) in October 2001 coincided with the culmination of long consultations between regional scientists themselves and with the CGIAR Centres on improving the impact of agricultural research in Africa. Those consultations had led, in creative steps, to the formation of the sub-regional organisations for strengthening agricultural research (SROs); ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SACCAR, which jointly established the regional Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The establishment of FARA completed the chain linking African agricultural scientists to the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR). Through FARA, all NARS in Africa are committed to the African Vision for African Agricultural Research.
In response to the Vision for African Agricultural Research and the 3rd CGIAR System Review, the CGIAR Centre Directors Committee convened meetings with African partners-Meeting of Minds I in Nairobi in May 1999; Stakeholder Meeting in Beijing, 22 May 1999; Meeting of Minds II in Abidjan in September 1999; Meeting of Minds III Nairobi in March, 2001. These meetings brought together senior representatives from African national and regional research organisations and their colleagues in the CGIAR Centres. Since 2001 numerous meetings have been held, in the context of the regional integration of the activities of the CGIAR and its partners in West and Central Africa and in Eastern and Southern Africa. Representatives from NARS, farmers' organisations, NGOs, SROs and non-CGIAR international institutions contributed to these meetings.
This series of meetings was characterised by a new atmosphere of partnership and optimism that the required impact will be realised through collaboration, which will be facilitated by the three strong sub-regional agricultural research organisations of NARS. This NEPAD agricultural research programme thus represents the current status of this long series of consultations amongst the major stakeholders and provides the opportunity to move from discussion to action.
The NEPAD Programme will be built on programmes and partnerships, which will be established through collaborative research between the FARA, CGIAR centres the NARS members of ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SACCAR and the wide range of collaborations that exist with advanced research institutions globally. A key feature of the NEPAD Programme is that these collaborations will be enhanced on the basis of equity among all partners who have shared commitments to excellence in science and to capacity building for all scientists.
The programme will be comprised of four sub themes that will collectively contribute to testing the central hypothesis: "that conservation and efficiency of use of soil and other natural resources will be optimised under conditions of market and/or policy and institution driven productivity". The four research themes are:
In addition, there is to be a crosscutting initiative:
Each of these is given in summary form below; the details are available with FARA for use in the context of the operationalisation of the CAADP and of FARA and partners' own plans.
Research Theme 1: Integrated Natural resource management
The entry point for the management of the natural resource base for agriculture will be at the soils and water levels - this makes the research directly applicable to pillar No. 1 (Chapter 2).
Traditional elements of increasing nutrient and water use efficiency and building long-term fertility through soil organic matter lie at the heart of this agenda but are integrated with management of hydrological regime, pests and other elements of above- and below-ground biodiversity. A key new element in this research agenda will be bridging spatial and temporal scales, from the plot, farm, landscape and regional scales. The Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) approach will be driven by a few dominant system variables, including soil fertility and water management. In addition to coping with the short and long term consequences of declining soil fertility and poor water control, the INRM approach includes assisting farmers to cope with aggravated weed pressure, overt losses from insect damage, post-harvest mechanisation and poor labour use efficiency, devalued formal services for knowledge, little or no credit and input support and an insufficiently developed marketing infrastructure.
A wide range of hypotheses will be tested. By linking good soil and water management practices to whole-farm requirements for sustainable and profitable production this research will provide change agents in the public and private sectors and the farmers themselves with menus of options and means for determining which are most appropriate for their own circumstances. It will also internalise participatory approaches to research for development in African national agricultural research and extension services and the NGO community. Tangible impacts will be:
Research Theme 2: Adaptive management of appropriate germplasm
This component will build on plant and livestock research that is aimed at developing high yielding animal breeds and plant varieties that are resistant to diseases and pests, adapted to the biophysical constraints of different eco-regions of sub-Saharan Africa, including to low soil fertility, drought and other features of climate change. This includes indigenous breeds and varieties with adaptive characteristics and species domesticated to take advantage of niche markets for African farmers. This work will be linked directly to component INRM, identifying and adapting germplasm that can be used to contribute to testing INRM hypotheses. It will include analysis of the trade-offs between different enterprises and of the trade-offs between increased productivity and increased adaptation to environmental stresses. The benefits will be assessed in terms of both sustainably increased incomes and capital accumulation.
The products of this component will be firstly farming systems made more resilient by the use of the most appropriate mixes of traditional and non-traditional and exotic and indigenous species, varieties and breeds that are best suited to the economic and ecological circumstances of the producers. This is an important, and for livestock possibly the only, means of conserving farm plant and animal biodiversity. These products will contribute to the tangible impacts outlined above. The corresponding impacts will be:
Research Theme 3: Development of sustainable market chains
Poorly understood and poorly organised market chains, poor linkage among elements and individual elements missing or poorly organised (e.g., for farm inputs) severely limit agricultural development in Africa. The market constraints that farmers encounter when attempting to diversify their production in order to stabilise and increase their incomes have been well documented by IFPRI. These constraints are related to lack of access to market information, information asymmetry between producers and sellers, poorly organised input markets to name but a few. The objective here is to increase market opportunities for smallholders, thereby increasing their incomes and income stability, by focusing on (i) niche markets, and (ii) improved input delivery systems.
The research will test the hypotheses that inadequate input and output markets are important elements of poverty traps in Africa; and that cash crops are more important than staple crops for raising income levels of farmers. It will produce recommendations for improving smallholder access to markets through better information, organisation and more effective and efficient delivery systems. The corresponding impacts will be:
Research Theme 4: Policies for sustainable agriculture
Research in this component will focus on the interface between technological change, institutional change and policy environments. This will ensure that a policy framework is put in place that will ensure food security and promote agricultural production while ensuring that production is based on a broad genetic base and is ecologically sustainable. Since there are few possibilities of expanding acreages, especially if water catchments and other vital environmental services are to be preserved, achieving the targets set in the African Vision for Agricultural Research will require intensification of agriculture. Policy research will be a critical component that will bear on the development, adaptation and dissemination of new technologies for accomplishing the purposes of the targets set in the African vision for agricultural research. Key policy problems that will be addressed include instruments to address the trade-offs between private and social costs and between benefits of soil, water and vegetation management at different scales, i.e., farm, community, national, and river basin scales.
The objective will be to generate policy options and implementation mechanisms that result in increased incomes, food security, fair trade and sustainable land use through the adoption of sustainable practices. This will include better informing policy makers and building their adaptive management capacity. A considerable number of hypotheses will be tested.
In addition, new international markets involving transfer payments for land users providing ecosystem services (biodiversity, carbon sequestration, watershed protection functions) are being developed and smallholders in Africa could benefit from such markets if unanswered research questions are answered. As far as transfer payments are concerned, these provide a very unique opportunity to link the private sector with smallholders in Africa, through carbon offset mechanisms. There are very few cases of such mechanisms in place in Africa but an example is provided by the NGO FACE, which is facilitating an arrangement between farmers in Uganda, who have been rehabilitating very degraded lands in the vicinity of Mt Elgon National Park, with the private sector in the Netherlands that is prepared to invest funds in tons of sequestered carbon in the south, particularly when this is done in a manner that benefits small-scale farmers and enables them to adopt sustainable practices.
Scientists engaged in this programme will benefit from interactions with colleagues engaged in climate change research to ensure that their research will not duplicate but rather add value, especially by improving knowledge of field and pasture level soil carbon sequestration.
This research will result in policy makers having access to viable options for promoting and enabling the adoption of technologies and marketing strategies for sustainable poverty alleviation. This in turn will result in reduced land degradation and enhanced livelihoods for the rural poor.
The development of viable systems of transfer payments will provide opportunities for the private sector in industrial countries, especially multi-nationals, to contribute to improving farming practices in Africa. This would provide African countries with win-win solutions for matching local returns with national benefits in negotiations over the extraction of raw materials. Impacts will be:
Cross-cutting Theme: Scientific capacity building
Over the past 30 years there has been significant progress in building human and material capacity for agricultural research in Africa, However, capacity still falls far short of meeting Africa's needs. Improvements are required not only in the amount and quality of technical resources but also in research programme planning, systems management and governance. There is need for revitalising degree-training programmes in order to capitalise on the rich academic resources in African universities.
The focus in this problem area is on building the capacity of researchers in Africa to encompass new approaches involved in agricultural research. This will involve multi-disciplinary approaches incorporating social research as well as encompassing the different biophysical disciplines. The object is to enable Africans to set up working networks to set agendas which focus on the needs of the end-users taking account of both endogenous and exogenous constraints. The programme will support the use of improved methodologies and will encourage a move away from research aimed at generating publications to that which addresses priority problems and which demonstrates a clear route to impact at the client level. In addition to providing opportunities for research for postgraduate degrees the Programme will provide opportunities for postdoctoral training and research management at all levels. It will also address the need to build the capacity of change agents to promote new approaches to agricultural research.
An important goal stated in the African Vision for Agricultural Research is `to achieve a cadre of qualified, experienced and motivated agricultural research and development specialists, managers, and policy makers to lead the region towards achieving its long-term goals'.
A consultative process to assure that training responds to African needs has been established through the FARA-SRO-CGIAR-NARS Training Group. This NEPAD programme will contribute to:
Specific details for governance and management of the NEPAD agricultural research programme will be developed through the extensive consultations leading to final approval. However the guiding principles have been developed and agreed in the extensive discussions among national, regional and international partners over the past years. These conform to the principles set out in the Durban Statement, i.e.
The establishment of FARA has provided an effective forum for co-ordinating work by national, regional and international partners in development of proposals and, in future, management and governance of agricultural research programmes in Africa. We propose a flat management arrangement that will ensure minimal bureaucracy. But it will allow for different approaches that are appropriate for North Africa and for East and Central Africa, West and Central Africa and Southern Africa to enable them to be consistent with the priorities of ASARECA, CORAF/WECARD and SADC/SACCAR respectively.
The NEPAD Steering Committee (NSC) would provide overall oversight and leadership. FARA's leadership will ensure that the NSC has sufficient authority to make binding decisions on the collaborators. The NSC will meet in full session once a year to receive reports from the sub-regional Steering Committees, which will meet a minimum of once a year and more frequently if necessary.
It is likely that the NSC will establish an independent Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) to provide independent scientific advice. Further discussion is required on whether there should be just one PAC or if there should be sub-regional PACs. Once that is decided FARA will lead consultations with stakeholders on the membership.
Day to day management and planning will be entrusted to sub-regional organisations to ensure sub-regional integration and harmonisation of the NEPAD agricultural research process.
The purpose of the NEPAD agricultural research programme is to increase agricultural output and rural household incomes. The programme promotes the sharing of knowledge, the development of partnerships and the transfer of high-impact technologies. The programme should work through African governments; businesses, trade associations, farmer groups and other organisations that help small farmers and agricultural enterprises become more productive. By helping these organisations learn about the productive and profitable technologies available and policy approaches that have worked elsewhere; the programme supports their work and promotes the adoption of improved agricultural policies, programmes and strategies
There will be need to work hard to consolidate the agricultural research partnerships and expand them, this will have to go beyond agric-based organisations to encompass the social care groups like the NGO's and farmers organisations based in the rural areas. The NGO's have become part of a "dynamic partnership in fighting rural poverty" because they are flexible, innovative and strong advocates for the social, economic and political advocates for the poor. Historically the public sector research organisations have not worked closely with the NGO's and this is an area that the NEPAD implementing research organs should try to improve the NGO/NARS relationship for the good of the rural people basically.
Traditionally Africa has had a pro-public sector research approach, often regarding the private sector as capitalistic and exploitative. Even when private sector effort is made, most of it turned out to be the Quasi-private organisations commonly called the parastatals. Most likely the next decade belongs to countries that will be able to attract private interstate and /or out state investors. The role of governments should be more on the policy reforms so that investors feel secure and are therefore encouraged to bring back the profits in the country or region. Private sector is generally self-driven and it will thrive where the business guidelines are clear. It is therefore important that NEPAD and its co-ordinating and implementing organs, FARA, SROs, IARC and the NARS take a clear position of supporting private sector for rural development and creating the appropriate partnerships between the public and private sectors. Efforts should be made to formally create a private sector and NGO committee to enhance the partnerships of researchers from the NARS, SROs and the IARCs with these two organs of development to provide policy and programme options to increase employment and income for Africans through expanded and efficient partnerships. Possible areas of sectoral focus should include agri-business development, agricultural marketing and credit, and support to the telecommunications sector.
Efforts should be made in enhancing the communication capacity among the NARS researchers many of whom are positioned in rural Africa. The programme should strongly advocate for investment in communication technology and to co-ordinate the preparation of communication master plan, probably regionally based as well as ensuring that the link with NEPAD initiative on infrastructure is made use of strategically aimed at facilitating the integration of Internet technologies into the Information and Communication Management operations of the FARA, SROs, IARCs and NARS networks, programmes and projects.
For effective co-ordination of research, communication is a prerequisite and that is the logic of this project whose objectives are:
It is envisaged that provision of electronic connectivity should have considerable impact on the quality and cost of doing agricultural research in Africa. For agricultural research institutions, a direct result will be the considerable reduction in the cost of communication, that is, lessened expenditure on telephone, fax, and courier services. For the network members easier and faster means of information exchange should lead to enhanced research capacity. Further, scientists will be able to access the information available on the Internet and also to get in contact with their peers in the global agricultural research systems.
An important output of the project is the enhancement of opportunities available to scientists, policy makers, extension workers, private sector, NGOs and farmers' organisations, for accessing virtual libraries and exchanging information. This should improve the technology transfer process and thus have direct impact on the productivity and income of farmers in the region.
In any case it becomes rather difficult to do marketing and effective commodity exchanges if communication is encumbered. Therefore, it is a primary responsibility to ensure that communication systems are not left undeveloped even as we consider investing in other equally important areas of agriculture and agricultural research.
It has been said that the world is drowning in information but starving in knowledge. For Africa one can in fact extend the observation and argue that even information generation is inadequate, a very disadvantageous situation for Africa in many ways. Historically the colonisation of Africa left the continent with a legacy of language and cultural divide, which in a way still persists even as Africa tries to reunite and strengthen itself as a trading block. The paradox of it all is that Africa still has to obtain and process its information through the clearinghouses of Europe and America basically, making it somewhat vulnerable when it comes to orienting itself for competitive positioning. If the situation were to change Africa would have to reorganise the way it acquires and processes information especially when it intends to use the same for comparative advantage.
One of the most critical researchable areas therefore for Africa is the development of applicable and accessible Market intelligence to enable Africa to promote intercontinental trade to the advantage of its peoples. In the past Africa has been a raw material source for other economies who value add to the materials through manufacturing process and then sell the same to Africa at an expensive price. If indeed information was available in the right format it is possible that Africa will turn the same into products for trade. Its only when it gets to this stage that Africa can become a key player in global trade giving it a chance for the anticipated growth and alleviation of poverty. NEPAD and it implementing organs have a major role to play in the process of passing the right information for the available opportunities for growth. Currently it would seem that there is limited profiling of agricultural trade within Africa and one of the most critical roles that FARA could play would be to enhance the cataloguing of agricultural trade working in tandem with other efforts like FAO and AU.
For agro business to grow fast enough for the target of 2020 to be met the information processing will have to be faster than it has been before. In many circumstances the African Governments are yet to fully liberalise the availability of the Internet and it will take the counsel of a product-oriented group like FARA to show the link between information flow and growth. If FARA works closely with others it could enhance the possibility of triggering the intra-Africa Trade and investment resources mobilisation.
Special attention must be given to the vital food-producing and entrepreneurial roles of women in rural and urban African communities. African women account for substantial amounts of production in both the informal and formal sectors. Research has shown that women entrepreneurs not only reinvest in their businesses but also place high value on social investments in their communities. Historically, African women have engaged in international commerce and trade. If indeed rural Africa has any chance the producers must have adequate information on which to base their decisions. They must also have hope that they will finally have compensation for their labour.
So far there are very few African set ups providing this very basic information and one of the most important roles FARA can play is to promote the investment in information kiosks through the NARS, making a cultural norm that the NARS will endeavour to provide both production and trade information. The efforts of the FAO statistical data need not be repeated but it can be localised to fit the situation and utilisation.
More importantly the provision of information to producers and processors allows them to enter the policy debate. Africa has suffered greatly from external policy formulation, which obviously has not succeeded. Research on agricultural market reforms has shown that the liberalisation programmes adopted by many developing countries in the past two decades have had limited success in developing private, efficient, and competitive agricultural markets. Instead, transactions costs and risks remain high, and policies designed to improve incentives for agricultural production often have had little impact on small farmers and the rural poor, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Evidence suggests that a major reason why past reforms have had limited impact is that institutional and structural deficiencies have not been properly addressed. In particular, four main types of institutions can contribute to well-functioning agricultural markets:
FARA may be able to stimulate some of the growth areas by providing examples of success. Much too often Africa only receives gloomy news of failure and deprivation, perhaps a bank of positive information may provide hope and reinvigorate determination to the struggling rural poor.
The New African Initiative calls for major new investment funding in agricultural research from development agencies, the private sector and African governments. The goal is to double the current annual spending on agricultural research in Africa within 10 years. This means spending will need to increase by an average of 7.2 percent a year during the next decade. With this rationale, total investment requirement for Agricultural Research, Technology Dissemination and Adoption to support activities at the national, sub-regional and regional levels is estimated at US$4.598 billion by 2015, reflecting a rise of 7.2 percent in annual commitment from US$0.199 billion in 2002 to US$0.496 billion in 2015.
The immediate investment requirements (2002-2005) - including overhead cost of 10 percent - would amount to some US$0.9 billion, while short-term requirements (2006-2010) would amount to some US$1.5 billion and medium-term requirements (2011-2015) would total some US$2.2 billion (see Appendix Table 1).
The challenge now is to reach consensus on the proposed concept among stakeholders of the international and African agricultural research systems. The concept was discussed first in the context of the African Caucus, which met in October 2000 prior to the annual meeting of the CGIAR. It was further developed and validated by the FARA General Assembly and Executive Committee at its 2001 meetings. The concept has been used to formulate a proposal for a FARA programme to fit within the framework of NEPAD.
A consensus was reached in the World Bank through internal consultations on the CGIAR reform process. The World Bank's Africa Region has taken a particular interest in establishing the proposed multi-country funding facility. Once an agreement is reached with interested African countries, staff will start designing a multi-country agricultural research programme (MARP) for Africa. The MARP will be structured as a horizontal adaptable programme loan that will consist of individual operations in African countries. To be eligible to participate, countries must commit to (a) implement institutional reforms, (b) collaborate regionally, (c) develop arrangements for decentralised implementation, (d) provide adequate domestic resources to finance their share of the costs, and (e) develop strategic plans for agricultural research.
Because building effective agricultural research systems is a medium and long-term challenge, the MARP will be phased over an estimated period of 20 to 25 years. Phase 1 will provide resources for an initial period of five years to help as many countries as possible implement institutional reforms. Subsequent phases will be designed to strengthen linkages among national, regional and international institutions, take advantage of economies of scale, and accelerate the dissemination of knowledge. The ultimate goal of the MARP is to increase agricultural productivity, accelerate growth, generate income, reduce poverty, and contribute to sustainable natural resources management.
In the wider research community, the challenge is to move from consensus building to action. The concept was presented and discussed with a broad range of partners during the recently concluded Plenary of the FARA. Especially important are consultations with the EU and European countries, the Africa Development Bank, the USAID, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.