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The impact of agricultural research on productivity and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa

Listed author(s):
  • Alene, Arega D.
  • Coulibaly, Ousmane
Registered author(s):

    While it is widely recognized that agricultural research is a key driver of broad-based technological change in agriculture that benefits the poor in many different ways, little is known about its aggregate impacts on productivity growth and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Using a polynomial distributed lag structure for agricultural research within a simultaneous system of equations framework, this paper first demonstrates that agricultural research contributes significantly to productivity growth in SSA. Productivity growth is again shown to raise per capita incomes, with income increases finally having significant poverty-reducing effects. With an aggregate rate of return of 55%, the payoffs to agricultural research are also impressive. Agricultural research currently reduces the number of poor by 2.3 million or 0.8% annually. While the actual impacts are not large enough to more than offset the poverty-increasing effects of population growth and environmental degradation, the potential impacts of agricultural research are far greater. Apart from low research investments, SSA faces several constraints outside the research system that hinder realization of potential research benefits. The results show that doubling research investments in SSA would reduce poverty by 9% annually. However, this would not be realized without more efficient extension, credit, and input supply systems.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306-9192(08)00095-X
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Food Policy.

    Volume (Year): 34 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 198-209

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:2:p:198-209
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/foodpol

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    1. Shenggen Fan & Peter Hazell & Sukhadeo Thorat, 2000. "Government Spending, Growth and Poverty in Rural India," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 82(4), pages 1038-1051.
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    3. Pardey, Philip G. & Roseboom, Johannes & Beintema, Nienke M., 1997. "Investments in african agricultural research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 409-423, March.
    4. Tim J. Coelli & D. S. Prasada Rao, 2005. "Total factor productivity growth in agriculture: a Malmquist index analysis of 93 countries, 1980-2000," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 32(s1), pages 115-134, 01.
    5. A. de Janvry & E. Sadoulet, 2002. "World Poverty and the Role of Agricultural Technology: Direct and Indirect Effects," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(4), pages 1-26.
    6. Frisvold, George & Ingram, Kevin, 1995. "Sources of agricultural productivity growth and stagnation in sub-Saharan Africa," Agricultural Economics of Agricultural Economists, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 13(1), October.
    7. Guy Nkamleu, 2004. "Productivity Growth, Technical Progress and Efficiency Change in African Agriculture," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 16(1), pages 203-222.
    8. Fulginiti, Lilyan E. & Perrin, Richard K. & Yu, Bingxin, 2004. "Institutions and agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 31(2-3), pages 169-180, December.
    9. Thirtle, Colin & Lin, Lin & Piesse, Jenifer, 2003. "The Impact of Research-Led Agricultural Productivity Growth on Poverty Reduction in Africa, Asia and Latin America," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(12), pages 1959-1975, December.
    10. 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.
    11. Frisvold, George & Ingram, Kevin, 1995. "Sources of agricultural productivity growth and stagnation in sub-Saharan Africa," Agricultural Economics, Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 51-61, October.
    12. World Bank, 2006. "Africa Development Indicators 2006," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 12421, September.
    13. repec:wbk:wbpubs:12419 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. 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.
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