Monday, 13 September 2010

Study Finds Substantial growth in Agricultural R&D funding in Ghana, but challenges remain

Accra, Ghana—Following a decade of minimal growth, spending on agricultural research and development (R&D) in Ghana increased dramatically after 2002. Expenditures more than doubled from 2000-2008, from 151 billion cedis to 352 billion cedis, according to a study by the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative and the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI). The amount spent, as a percentage of Ghana’s agricultural GDP, was one of the highest in West Africa. The spike in spending, however, was largely due to an increase in salary costs, the study found.

As spending on agricultural R&D increased from 2002-2008, growth in research staff was slow but steady. By 2008, Ghana had the equivalent of 537 full-time researchers working in agriculture, but only 17 percent of them were women. Despite growth in research staff, many agencies are faced with an aging pool of scientists, recruitment bans, limited support for training, and a government proposal to significantly cut salary costs. According to George Owusu Essegbey, Director of STEPRI, these challenges need to be urgently addressed if Ghana is to maintain its current capacity to conduct agricultural R&D.

Dependence on government and donor funding also poses a major challenge. Although government policy required agencies of Ghana’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to generate 30 percent of their budget from private sources more than a decade ago, only one institute has come close to reaching this target.

“Well-funded, staffed, and managed agricultural research organizations are critical to advancing agricultural science and technology,” said Nienke Beintema, head of the ASTI program. “In turn, innovations in agriculture are important to promoting agricultural productivity, spurring national economic growth, and ultimately improving the lives of poor Ghanaian families.”

Download press release.