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

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  • Alene, Arega D.
  • Coulibaly, Ousmane

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alene, Arega D. & Coulibaly, Ousmane, 2009. "The impact of agricultural research on productivity and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 198-209, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:2:p:198-209
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Msangi, Siwa, 2009. "Biofuels, Growth and Agricultural Development," 2009 Conference, August 16-22, 2009, Beijing, China 51723, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. repec:spr:ssefpa:v:9:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s12571-017-0739-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Johnson, M., 2014. "Exploring strategic priorities for regional agricultural research and development investments in Southern Africa," IWMI Working Papers H046297, International Water Management Institute.
    5. Yalew, Amsalu W. & Hirte, Georg & Lotze-Campen, Hermann & Tscharaktschiew, Stefan, 2017. "General equilibrium effects of public adaptation in agriculture in LDCs: Evidence from Ethiopia," CEPIE Working Papers 11/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    6. Zuzana Smeets Kristkova & Edward Smeets & Hans van Meijl, 2016. "Agricultural R&D investments, biofuel policy and food security – a CGE analysis," EcoMod2016 9966, EcoMod.
    7. Lord Andzie-Quainoo & Robin Grier, 2014. "Tropical Agriculture: Is Africa Different?," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 640-654, November.
    8. Zavale, H., 2011. "The structure and trends of public expenditure on agriculture in Mozambique," IWMI Working Papers H044126, International Water Management Institute.
    9. Muhammad Khan & Muhammad Khan & Khalid Zaman & Muhammad Khan, 2014. "The evolving role of agricultural technology indicators and economic growth in rural poverty: has the ideas machine broken down?," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(4), pages 2007-2022, July.
    10. Smale, Melinda & Kergna, Alpha O. & Assima, Amidou & Weltzien, Eva & Rattunde, Fred, 2014. "An Overview and Economic Assessment of Sorghum Improvement in Mali," Food Security International Development Working Papers 198186, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
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    13. Musaba, Emmanuel. & Pali-Shikhulu, J. & Matchaya, Greenwell. & Chilonda, Pius. & Nhlengethwa, Sibusiso., 2014. "Monitoring agriculture sector performance in Swaziland: investment, growth and poverty trends, 2000-2011," IWMI Research Reports H046782, International Water Management Institute.
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    15. Benin, Samuel, 2016. "Returns to agricultural public spending in Ghana: Cocoa versus noncocoa subsector:," IFPRI discussion papers 1503, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    17. Mekonnen, Tigist, 2017. "Productivity and household welfare impact of technology adoption: Micro-level evidence from rural Ethiopia," MERIT Working Papers 007, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    18. Acosta, Manuel & Coronado, Daniel & Toribio, Mª Rosario, 2011. "The use of scientific knowledge by Spanish agrifood firms," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 507-516, August.
    19. Hounkonnou, Dominique & Kossou, Dansou & Kuyper, Thomas W. & Leeuwis, Cees & Nederlof, E. Suzanne & Röling, Niels & Sakyi-Dawson, Owuraku & Traoré, Mamoudou & van Huis, Arnold, 2012. "An innovation systems approach to institutional change: Smallholder development in West Africa," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 74-83.
    20. John Inekwe, 2015. "The Contribution of R&D Expenditure to Economic Growth in Developing Economies," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 727-745, December.
    21. Zuzana Smeets Kristkova & Michiel van Dijk & Hans van Meijl, 2015. "Long-term projections of global food security with R&D-driven technological progress," EcoMod2015 8601, EcoMod.

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