Institution: FAO Farmesa Programme
P. Anadajayaserkeram is an Austrailian citizen working since 1997 across nine countries of Africa on a SIDA-funded project that is being executed by FAO. He has over 20 years of experience in Eastern and Southern Africa, 29 published articles, 39 published reports, 50 conference papers, and three handbooks to his credit. He was a CIMMYT economist from 1982 to 1991, served in the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics in 1991-93, and was an Impact Assessment and Policy Analysis Advisor for SACCAR in 1993-97. He is currently the President of the International Association of Farming Systems Research and Extension, and serves as Professor Extra-ordinary of the Postgraduate School of Agriculture and Rural development at the University of Pretoria.
Title: "Agricultural research and poverty alleviation: Lessons from Eastern and Southern Africa" Co-author: Prof. M. Rukuni.
Given the Nature of the Economies in Eastern and Southern (ESA) Africa, agricultural research is still a critical factor contributing to the overall economic growth and poverty alleviation. In about half of the countries in ESA, 40 percent of their inhabitants are living in poverty. The paper argues that agricultural transformation is a pre-requisite for broad based economic growth. Moreover, agricultural research is still considered to be the engine for transforming smallholder agriculture.
Available evidence from Rate of Return (ROR) studies demonstrates positive contributions to productivity gains. However, these studies did not explicitly address the linkages between productivity gains and poverty alleviation. The continuous increases in poverty incidence clearly demonstrate the need for more comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation. There is very little evidence to show that poverty alleviation is explicitly considered as a criterion in current research resource allocation. Currently the NARS in ESA are not adequately equipped to address poverty alleviation in their programmes. The on-going institutional reforms largely focus on financial sustainability, and their services are more likely to be accessible to better-off farmers. As a way forward, therefore, agricultural research need to be factored much more effectively into the national economic planning processes, as well explicit targeted activities should be directed towards the needs of the poor.