Volume 65, Pages 1-90 (December 2016)
Original Research Article
Returns to food and agricultural R&D investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1975–2014
Philip G. Pardey, Robert S. Andrade, Terrance M. Hurley, Xudong Rao, Frikkie G. Liebenberg
Research-enabled growth in agricultural productivity is pivotal to sub-Saharan Africa’s overall economic growth prospects. Yet, investments in research and development (R&D) targeted to many national food and agricultural economies throughout Africa are fragile and faltering. To gain insight into what could be driving this trend, this article updates, summarizes and reassesses the published evidence on the returns to African agricultural R&D. Based on a compilation of 113 studies published between 1975 and 2014 spanning 25 countries, the reported internal rates of return (IRRs) to food and agricultural research conducted in or of direct consequence for sub-Saharan Africa averaged 42.3%py. In addition to the 376 IRR estimates, the corresponding 129 benefit-cost ratios (BCRs) averaged 30.1. Most (96.5%) of the returns-to-research evaluations are of publicly performed R&D, and the majority (87.6%) of the studies were published in the period 1990–2009. The large dispersion in the reported IRRs and BCRs makes it difficult to discern meaningful patterns in the evidence. Moreover, the distribution of IRRs is heavily (positively) skewed, such that the median value (35.0%py) is well below the mean, like it is for research done elsewhere in the world (mean 62.4%py; median 38.0%py). Around 78.5% of the evaluations relate to the commodity-specific consequences of agricultural research, while 5.5% report on the returns to an “all agriculture” aggregate. The weight of commodity-specific evaluation evidence is not especially congruent with the composition of agricultural production throughout Africa, nor, to the best that can be determined, the commodity orientation of public African agricultural R&D.
Original Research Article
Facing famine: Somali experiences in the famine of 2011
Daniel Maxwell, Nisar Majid, Guhad Adan, Khalif Abdirahman, Jeeyon Janet Kim
In 2011–12, Somalia experienced the worst famine of the twenty- first century. Since then, research on the famine has focused almost exclusively on the external response, the reasons for the delay in the international response, and the implications for international humanitarian action in the context of the “global war on terror.” This paper focuses on the internal, Somali response to the famine. Themes of diversification, mobility and flexibility are all important to understanding how people coped with the famine, but this paper focuses on the factor that seemed to determine whether and how well people survived the famine: social connectedness, the extent of the social networks of affected populations, and the ability of these networks to mobilize resources. These factors ultimately determined how well people coped with the famine. The nature of reciprocity, the resources available within people’s networks, and the collective risks and hazards faced within networks, all determined people’s individual and household outcomes in the famine and are related to the social structures and social hierarchies within Somali society. But these networks had a distinctly negative side as well—social identity and social networks were also exploited to trap humanitarian assistance, turn displaced people into “aid bait,” and to a large degree, determined who benefited from aid once it started to flow. This paper addresses several questions: How did Somali communities and households cope with the famine of 2011 in the absence of any state-led response—and a significant delay in a major international response? What can be learned from these practices to improve our understanding of famine, and of mitigation, response and building resilience to future crises?