Africa is rich in both natural and human resources, yet nearly 200 million of its people are undernourished because of inadequate food supplies. Comprehensive strategies are needed across the continent to harness the power of science and technology (S&T) in ways that boost agricultural productivity, profitability, and sustainability -- ultimately ensuring that all Africans have access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs. This report addresses the question of how science and technology can be mobilized to make that promise a reality.
Institutions are the vehicles that enable the expression of science and technology (S&T) potential, thereby contributing to the improvement of agricultural productivity and food security. They are predominantly public in Africa, with the private sector playing a minimal role up to now. The national agricultural research systems in Africa have been undergoing reforms to make them more responsive and effective. Institutional innovations designed to strengthen national agricultural research systems are being explored. There are also subregional and continental initiatives designed to economize on scarce resource and development (R&D) resources by exploiting synergies and research spillovers across similar agro-ecologies and farming systems.
In this chapter we examine the current status of agricultural R&D institutions in Africa and the trends in their evolution and impacts, including funding, and attempt to diagnose the challenges that they face. We conclude with an assessment of desirable future strategies and priorities.