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Public agricultural research and development spending in South Africa – update

Chaminuka, Petronella, Beintema, Nienke, Flaherty, Kathleen, Liebenberg, Frikkie
Agrekon 2019 v.58 no.1 pp. 7-20
agricultural development, agricultural research, data collection, developing countries, food security, funding, issues and policy, poverty, private sector, public investment, research and development, surveys, technological change, Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa
In developing countries, where few incentives exist for private sector investment in research, public investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) is critical for technological change that stimulates agricultural development, food security and poverty alleviation. This article analyses trends for key indicators in agricultural R&D in South Africa, building on the work of Liebenberg et al. (2011). The paper uses data collected from a range of sources including the Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) surveys comprising data for the period 2000–2014. Results show fluctuations in agricultural R&D spending, although there was a general increase in gross spending on R&D at national level, reflecting a continued trend of increased funding for non-agricultural research. Research spending intensity ratios for South Africa remain higher than the recommended 1 per cent. Despite the harsh economic environment and lower than expected economic growth in South Africa since 2011, the government continues to provide the major source of funds for the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). When compared with countries in Africa south of the Sahara, South Africa continues to rank second in agricultural R&D investment, whilst it invests much less than its BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India and China) counterparts, despite having the highest research intensity ratio. The article supports Liebenberg et al. (2011)’s recommendations for revisiting policies for long term support of agricultural R&D and explores mechanisms for the ARC to establish sustainable funding streams for agricultural R&D. Recommendations for establishing comparable research spending intensity ratios are also made.