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27.11.2009 Research Findings

Agricultural research reduces poverty in sub-Saharan Africa

By International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
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A study on the impact of agricultural research on
productivity and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) shows that agricultural

research is currently reducing the number of poor people in SSA by 2.3 million

The study, authored by Drs. Arega Alene and Ousmane

Coulibaly of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), finds

that payoffs from agricultural research are impressive with an estimated

aggregate rate of return of 55%.
However, the
researchers say that the actual impacts are not large enough to offset the

poverty-increasing effects of population growth and environmental degradation

in the region.
The study which has been published in the Food Policy journal further demonstrates

that doubling investments in agricultural research and development in SSA from

the current $650 million will reduce poverty by two percentage point annually.

“However, this would not be realized without a more

efficient extension, credit, and input supply systems,” says Alene.

The researchers also established that agricultural research

had contributed significantly to productivity growth in SSA. Highest returns to

agricultural research were found in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria and Ethiopia, and were attributable to

sustained national research investments with modest research capacity,

long-term Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) operations,

and regional technology spillovers.
International agricultural research conducted by the CGIAR

contributed about 56% of the total poverty reduction impact in the region.

According to the study, in view of the significant long-term research

investments and demonstrated successes in the region, the poverty reduction

that is due to IITA research within the CGIAR ranges from half to one million

poor people annually.
Despite the contribution of agric research and development,

the study notes that SSA also faces several constraints outside the research

system that hinder realization of potential research benefits.

These include weak extension systems, lack of efficient credit

and input supply systems, and poor infrastructural development.

Therefore, the study concludes that efforts aimed at improving

the functioning of extension, credit, and input supply systems will contribute

to achieving greater poverty reduction through agricultural research.

For more information, please contact:
Arega Alene, [email protected]
Impact Assessment Economist
Jeffrey T. Oliver, [email protected]
Corporate Communications Officer (International)
Godwin Atser, [email protected]
Corporate Communications Officer (West Africa)
Communication Office
IITA - Headquarters
Ibadan, Nigeria

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