African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6863

Full Length Research Paper

The effects of agricultural R&D investments on poverty and undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa

Rui Benfica
  • Rui Benfica
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC, USA.
  • Google Scholar
Alejandro Nin-Pratt
  • Alejandro Nin-Pratt
  • International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington, DC, USA.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 02 November 2022
  •  Accepted: 01 January 2023
  •  Published: 30 April 2023


The analysis explores the relationship between agricultural R&D investments, and rural poverty and undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Agricultural R&D knowledge stocks (KS) account for the lagged effects of research. Causal mediation analysis assesses the impacts of KS and measures the effect of KS-induced productivity growth on poverty and undernourishment. Evidence suggests that growth in KS helped in reducing rural poverty and undernourishment, with elasticities estimated at 0.218 and 0.146, respectively. Mediation analysis indicates that 20% of the KS effect on extreme poverty and a quarter of the effect on moderate poverty are attributed to KS driven gains in labor productivity. KS growth reduces undernourishment with an estimated elasticity of 0.132. About 40% is mediated through gains in land productivity. These suggest that KS supports poverty and hunger reduction through benefits on-farm and beyond. They also suggest that the role of R&D KS productivity enhancing innovations can be strengthened. Given the currently low investments in R&D and resulting KS, increasing its levels will be critical, but that alone is not sufficient. It is important to rethink the way innovations from R&D get scaled up and pay attention to complementary policies and investments that enable a sustainable pathway to inclusive productivity growth.

Key words:  Agriculture, knowledge stocks, mediation, poverty, research and development, undernourishment.