An Economic Analysis of Research and Technology Transfer of Millet, Sorghum, and Cowpeas in Niger

June 1, 1994 - Author: Valentina Mazzucato and Samba Ly

IDWP 40. Valentina Mazzucato and Samba Ly. 1994. 104 pp. An Economic Analysis of Research and Technology Transfer of Millet, Sorghum, and Cowpeas in Niger 

Agriculture is the largest sector of the Nigerien economy. In 1988 it employed some 88% of the
country's labor force and accounted for 36% of the gross domestic product (GDP). Millet and
sorghum are the two most important crops. They accounted for 85% of total production and
80% of national calorie intake in 1990. Cowpea is the leading cash crop, sold mainly to Nigeria.
Millet, sorghum, and cowpea intercropping is Niger's most common agricultural production
system. From 1961 to 1990, cowpea yields increased an average 0.2% annually, while millet
and sorghum yields decreased. Millet yields fell an average 0.7% per annum and sorghum
decreased by 2.7% per annum. Since 1970 Niger has experienced 13 years of deficit cereal
production. During six of those the country imported more than 30% of its food requirements.

Production decreases can be largely attributed to decline of total rainfall, increase in variability
of rainfall, soil degradation, and increase in population pressure, leading to increased cultivation
of marginal lands. Niger has one of the fastest growing populations in the world. Food demand
is increasing steadily. While achieving food self-sufficiency is one of the government's highest
priorities for the agricultural sector, enlarging the total cultivated area is not a viable, long-term
option. Meeting future food demand will require continuous investment in the generation and
transfer of productivity-enhancing agricultural technologies. Such investments are costly and
compete for scarce public resources.

This study analyzes returns to investments in Niger's research and technology transfer system for
millet, sorghum, and cowpea between 1975 and 1991. Sixty-eight percent of the country's
public-sector outlays for agricultural research and 58% of its agricultural researchers were
devoted to research on these three crops between 1986 and 1990. Most of this research was
done by INRAN, the national agricultural research institute of Niger (Institut National de la
Recherche Agronomique du Niger).

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