Recognizing the Critical Role of Agricultural Research and Development for Resilient Food Systems
The dynamic panelist discussion and expert presentation during the U.N. Food Systems Summit Science Days side event on July 7, 2021, highlighted the critical role of agricultural research and development (R&D) in achieving resilient and sustainable food systems. This post summarizes the findings and calls to action presented by the co-hosting organizations in the event report submitted to the U.N. Food Systems Summit Science Committee and the more detailed Independent Dialogue Report.
The Evidentiary Base for Investment in Agricultural Research and Development
Private and public R&D sector leaders identified and discussed key actions needed to advance adaptive agricultural research and develop an enabling policy environment to support the steady technological innovation stream necessary for resilient, sustainable food systems. Discussions reviewed evidence of evolving economic transformation and progress toward resilience in sub-Saharan Africa from the Board for International Food and Agriculture Development (BIFAD)-commissioned Agricultural Productivity Growth, Resilience, and Economic Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa report; the World Bank publication, Harvesting Prosperity: Technology and Productivity Growth in Agriculture; and the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group publication, Building Resilience in Food Systems and Agricultural Value Chains. These selected examples highlight the importance of technical innovation driven by research, development and extension (R&D&E) as drivers of agricultural productivity growth, as well as the catalytic role of agricultural productivity-led growth in poverty reduction, food systems resilience and economic transformation. Agricultural R&D&E investments generate among the greatest impacts on agricultural productivity growth and poverty reduction.
Key Points and Actions for Policy Makers
Through evidence exploration, panel discussions and participant Q&A, public, private sector, university and donor community experts called for priority actions to ensure sustained agricultural R&D support:
- Sustained government commitment to strengthen national agricultural R&D&E investments, leveraging and building on international donor and CGIAR investments.
- Increased investments in locally relevant, adaptive, national-level agricultural R&D, including National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS).
- Stronger cooperation between national and international research systems and private sector partnerships.
- Stronger rule of law and governance, and improved enabling trade, policy, infrastructure and security environments to drive productivity growth and support private sector investment.
- Inclusive, demand-driven and adaptive agricultural research prioritization and technology development, ensuring R&D investments effectively include smallholder farmers and innovators, women and youth, and adapt to environmental changes and local context.
Three of the event’s panelists also collaborated to write a recently published op-ed article titled, Research and Development are Key to Resilient Food Systems in Africa, summarizing many of the key views put forward by the panelists, including emphasis on the need for increased government commitment to R&D in Africa, highlighting concerning downward trends in innovation output and a call for further integration of the social sciences to improve technology adoption and policy responses.
The session co-organizers — the World Bank, AfDB/African Development Institute (AfDB/ADI), Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI), Alliance for African Partnership, USAID and BIFAD — are committed to championing and broadly disseminating these important themes and messages to policymakers, including at the U.N. Food Systems Summit. For a more detailed summary of the event findings, recommendations and points of divergence, please view the Independent Dialogue Report and event recording.
Learn more about BIFAD and sign up to receive invitations to future BIFAD-supported events on the BIFAD Activities page on AgriLinks.