In the latter half of last century, investment in agricultural research across the continent fell, with annual growth rates in spending declining from two per cent in the 1970s to just 0.8 per cent in the 1990s, according to the latest brief of International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).
“In 2003, African leaders agreed, under the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP), to increase agricultural GDP by six per cent a year. But most countries have failed to reach that target, with annual growth rates remaining at less than three per cent,” noted IIED’s brief entitled, ‘Integrating climate change into agricultural research for development in Africa’.
Excluding Nigeria and South Africa, total public ARD spending in Africa actually fell by 0.3 percent each year in the 1990s. Spending per scientist has also declined considerably over the past three decades, according to the brief.
“Lack of investment in research for the development of Africa’s agriculture means that the continent remains largely dependent on outside funding. Added to a growing number of people — Africa’s population is expected to rise from one billion today to 2.1 billion by 2050 — under-investment in agriculture is sure to undermine the continent’s impressive economic growth.” it noted.
On the other hand, at a summit in L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009, the G8 pledged 22.5 billion US dollars to support African agriculture, including 3.8 billion US dollars from the European Commission and significant commitments from several other European donors.
According to IIED, to be effective, this money should target the sub-sector with the greatest potential to increase food security.
“This means investing in public good research to improve the livelihoods of African small-scale producers. Integrating climate change is essential because smallholders are among the most vulnerable to its impacts,” sated the brief sponsored by European Initiative for Agricultural Research for Development (EIARD).