Institution: Michigan State University, USA
James F. Oehmke. Assoc. Professor of Agricultural Economics, and Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholar, Michigan State University. Core Faculty, African Studies Center, MSU. Research and Teaching. B.A., Yale University, Mathematics and Economics; Ph.D., University of Chicago, Economics. Recent publications: Masters, Bedingar and Oehmke, The impact of agricultural research in Africa, Agricultural Economics 19(1998):81-86; Oehmke, Masters and Anandajayasekeram, Agricultural Technology Development Transfer in Africa: Impacts Achieved and Lessons Learned USAID/AFR/PSGE/SD Technical Paper no. 77, 1997, http://www.info.usaid.gov/sdpsge/pubs/pubs.html Oehmke and Crawford, The impact of agricultural technology in sub-Saharan Africa, Journal of African Economies 5(1996):271-92.
Title: "Is Good Science good enough to alleviate poverty: Lessons from African impact assessment studies."
Over the past decade, Africa has played host to the one of the most concentrated evaluations of agriculture and agricultural research ever conducted. In 1990, national governments and donors had all but given up on Africas agriculture and agricultural research. In 1992 in Washington DC, a workshop sponsored by USAID brought to light case studies showing that in many instances, African agricultural research generated significant improvements in the well-being of African citizens, including poor smallholders. This negation of the conventional wisdom reawakened decision-makers to the potential of agricultural research. Since that time, investigators have conducted a truly amazing number of case study, institutional, sectoral and macroeconomic studies on the relationships between research, technological innovation, and agricultural and economic growth in the African context.
This paper reviews and synthesizes the available evidence on the relationship between African agricultural research and its impacts on farm income, consumer benefits, and economic growth.
The paper is centered on four questions:
Is there evidence the African agricultural research has generated socio-economic impact?
If African agricultural research has generated impact, why is the performance of the agricultural sector and many national economies so poor?
If it is worth reinvesting in agricultural research, what changes need to be made to insure that research resources generate the maximum benefit for the largest number of Africans?
- What is the role of regionalization?
- How should research organizations interface with policies that do or could affect the accessibility and use of research results?
- How best can scientific research organization re-orient their activities and programs to target socio-economic and environmental impact?
- How should African agricultural research, technology transfer, and related institutions restructure to generate the greatest benefit?
The paper concludes with a forward-looking perspective on new ways of doing business, based on ongoing activities the author is conducting in conjunction with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa, the Special Program for African Agricultural Research, the US Agency for International Development, and Michigan State University