Importance, problems, and reform of agricultural research in Africa
Increasing agricultural productivity remains a central concern of developing countries. This is because it is a major factor determining the level of income of the farming sector, in meeting the food requirements of continually expanding populations, in generating foreign exchange to finance domestic programmes, amongst others. Agricultural research has an important role to play in meeting these targets, since many of the new technologies, inputs, and techniques of production that increase agricultural productivity are developed through agricultural research. A transformed agricultural research system helps to achieve sustainable food and income security for all agricultural producers and consumers, particularly for resource-poor households, whether they are in rural or urban areas. Sustainable agricultural intensification itself means producing more food and agricultural products from the same overall resources (such as land, labour and water), while reducing the negative environmental impacts and at the same time increasing contributions to natural capital and the flow of environmental services. The problems of research in Africa include low and unpredictable research budgets, shortages of well-trained scientific and technical staff and lack of clearly defined research priorities. The recommendations made include increased funding for research by international and national research centres, improving the relevance and responsiveness of research to clients, and making the institutional base for agricultural research more pluralistic.
Key words: Agricultural research, Africa, importance, problems, reform.