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Returns from research in economies with policy distortions: hybrid sorghum in Sudan


  • Ahmed, Mohamed M.
  • Masters, William A.
  • Sanders, John H.


Conventional estimates of the economic return to agricultural research use market prices for the values of products and inputs; on this basis, economic rates of return are typically well above the cost of capital, suggesting that more investment in research would be socially desirable. But these estimates may be incorrect if, as is often the case, market prices are distorted by market failures or government policies and hence do not reflect social values. This paper presents a simple, partial-equilibrium methodology with which to improve the measurement of social returns to research by taking account of multiple distortions in the market prices of products, inputs and foreign exchange. The method also takes account of variation in domestic and world prices, making a product tradable in some years and nontradable in others. The method is applied to the case of Hageen-Dura 1 (HD-1), Sub-Saharan Africa's first commercially successful hybrid sorghum. HD-1 was released in the Sudan in 1983. From the start of research in 1979 to 1992, the HD-1 breeding program had an estimated IRR of 97% when all major policies in the sorghum market, the fertilizer market, and the exchange rate are taken into account. The high rate of return to HD-1 research was due to the program's low cost and rapid payoff, pointing to the potential value of small adaptive research programs, taking full advantage of foreign technology and genetic material to produce locally-appropriate crosses in a short period of time. Even in the highly distorted economies of Africa, such programs can yield very high payoffs.
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Suggested Citation

  • Ahmed, Mohamed M. & Masters, William A. & Sanders, John H., 1995. "Returns from research in economies with policy distortions: hybrid sorghum in Sudan," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 183-192, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agecon:v:12:y:1995:i:2:p:183-192

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Oehmke, James F., 1988. "The calculation of returns to research in distorted markets," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 2(4), pages 291-302, December.
    2. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419-419.
    3. Martin, Will & Alston, Julian M., 1992. "An exact approach for evaluating the benefits from technological change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1024, The World Bank.
    4. Oehmke, James F., 1988. "The Calculation of Returns to Research in Distorted Markets," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 2(4), December.
    5. R. K. Lindner & F. G. Jarrett, 1978. "Supply Shifts and the Size of Research Benefits," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 60(1), pages 48-58.
    6. Abdelrahman, Ali Hasab-Elrasoul, 1990. "Analysis of the consumer demand for cereals using AIDS model: an application to Sudan," ISU General Staff Papers 1990010108000017614, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
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    Cited by:

    1. Frisvold, George B. & Sullivan, John & Raneses, Anton, 2003. "Genetic improvements in major US crops: the size and distribution of benefits," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 28(2), pages 109-119, March.
    2. Mokoena, M.R. & Townsend, R.F. & Kirsten, J.F., 1999. "Cattle Improvement Schemes In South Africa: Measuring The Returns To Research Investments," Agrekon, Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA), vol. 38(1), March.
    3. Maredia, Mywish K. & Byerlee, Derek & Pee, Peter, 2000. "Impacts of food crop improvement research: evidence from sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 531-559, October.
    4. Masters, William A. & Bedingar, Touba & Oehmke, James F., 1998. "The impact of agricultural research in Africa: aggregate and case study evidence," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 19(1-2), pages 81-86, September.
    5. Ahmed, Mohamed A.M. & Shideed, Kamel & Mazid, Ahmed, 2010. "Returns to Policy-Oriented Agricultural Research: The Case of Barley Fertilization in Syria," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1462-1472, October.

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