Study Finds Substantial Growth in Agricultural R&D Funding in Ghana, But Challenges Remain

By Michele Pietrowski, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Accra—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, jumping from 151 billion cedis to 352 billion cedis, when prices are adjusted for inflation, 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. In 2008, salaries accounted for 83 percent of the agricultural research budget of Ghana's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the leading government research organization, which encompasses 13 research agencies.

ASTI, CSIR, and STEPRI, one of the agencies under the CSIR umbrella, are jointly hosting a seminar on August 17 to share the study's findings, and to discuss the successes and challenges of agricultural research in Ghana. ASTI is a global research and data gathering program spearheaded by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on behalf of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. ASTI and STEPRI surveyed 21 agricultural research organizations in Ghana as part of the study.

“The significant increase in spending in agricultural R&D reflects the high priority the Ghanaian government places on agriculture, and research and development in particular, in achieving the country's national development goals and improving rural livelihoods,” said Shashidhara Kolavalli, IFPRI senior research fellow and leader of the institute's Ghana Strategy Support Program. “Having access to detailed data, such as those compiled and analyzed by ASTI, enables policymakers to better target future investments so that smallholder farmers can boost their yields, raise income, and overcome poverty.”

Ghana's new push to fund agricultural R&D is matched by a more general commitment to science and technology. In just one year, the budget for Ghana's major science and technology agencies soared from US$5 million in 2007 to US$39 million in 2008, according to the study.

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 fulltime researchers working in agriculture, but only 17 percent of them were women. One-fifth of the country's agricultural researchers are employed by higher education institutions, which are playing an increasingly important role in Ghana's agricultural research and development, the ASTI-STEPRI study found. 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.

“These challenges need to be urgently addressed if Ghana is to maintain its current capacity to conduct agricultural R&D,” said George Owusu Essegbey, director of STEPRI. “Ghana has made important strides in reducing poverty and hunger in recent years, but these achievements could be threatened if the country's agricultural research expertise further erodes.”

Dependence on government and donor funding also poses a major challenge. Non-profit organizations and for-profit companies alike play a limited role in Ghana's agricultural research efforts. Although government policy required CSIR agencies 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.”


The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI is one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, an alliance of 64 governments, private foundations, and international and regional organizations.

The Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) is one of the 13 research agencies under CSIR. The institute was established in 1988 to provide research support for the formulation of policies to promote innovation and create the enabling conditions for the effective use of S&T for socio-economic development. To learn more about STEPRI visit

The Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) initiative compiles, analyzes, and publishes data on institutional developments, investments, and human resources in agricultural R&D in low- and middle-income countries. The ASTI initiative is managed by IFPRI and involves collaborative alliances with many national and regional R&D agencies, as well as international institutions. The initiative, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with additional support from IFPRI, is widely recognized as the most authoritative source of information on the support for and structure of agricultural R&D worldwide. To learn more about the ASTI initiative visit