Authorship of African Development Report – Chapter 3: Accelerating Agricultural Production in Africa through Research, Development and Innovation. (Period 2017)
Agricultural development in Africa is key to triggering economic growth, reducing poverty, narrowing income disparities, providing food security, and delivering ecosystem services (Byerlee et al., 2009). Structural changes in global agricultural markets coupled with demographic, socio-economic, and biophysical factors are shaping demands, imposing production constraints, and influencing the pathways to agricultural development in the region. Realizing that broad-based development of their economies hinges on agriculture, African governments have consistently demonstrated a desire for an agricultural renaissance, and the sector growth statistics are starting to show significant improvements in many countries. For instance, over 15 African countries have exhibited at least 6 percent average sector growth between 2008 and 2014 (Badiane et al., 2016).
These growth statistics have not been as dramatic as the Green Revolution of Asia and Latin America. Nevertheless, the adverse externalizes associated with the success of agriculture in Asia and Latin America offers some key lessons from which Africa can learn and thereby chart out more sustainable paradigms of growth. Like in the Green Revolution, research and innovation are key enablers of Africa’s agricultural growth and development, especially in precipitating technical changes to bridge productivity gaps of smallholder farmers who constitute over 80 percent of agricultural production (Lowder et al., 2016).
Strategic documents of key regional agencies unequivocally provide for agricultural research, development and innovation (RDI). The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), the flagship initiative on agriculture of the African Union Commission (AUC) and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), dedicated a pillar to agricultural research, technology generation and adoption in its first decade of implementation, 2003 – 2013. Currently, the 1st Strategic Action Area of the post-Malabo CAADP Implementation Strategy and Roadmap, clearly supports agricultural RDI (AUC/NPCA, 2014). Earlier in 2007, the African Union enacted a policy decision urging African countries to allocate at least 1 percent of GDP to research and development by 2010. The African Development Bank (AfDB) has also earmarked support to RDI in Africa in its Feed Africa Strategy (2016 – 2025) (AfDB, 2016). Similarly, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) has successively elaborated frameworks around which science and technology (and associated institutional provisions) can better support agricultural RDI, viz.: Framework for Africa’s Agricultural Productivity (FAAP) and Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa (S3A). The objective of this chapter is to underscore the centrality of RDI as an enabler of agricultural transformation in Africa. The chapter gives a contextual account of RDI in Africa, the necessary fiscal and institutional reforms to support RDI, pathways for effective knowledge management, ending with pertinent conclusions and policy recommendations.