THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA - THE RUSSIAN WHEAT APHID INTEGRATED CONTROL PROGRAMME AS A CASE STUDY
CN MARASAS1, P ANANDAJAYASEKERAM2, V TOLMAY3,
D MARTELLA4, J PURCHASE3, G PRINSLOO3 and CJ VAN
1ARC-Unit for Development Impact Analysis, PO Box 8783, Pretoria 0001, Republic of South Africa; 2SACCAR, Private Bag 00108, Gaborone, Botswana; 3ARC-Small Grain Institute, Private Bag X29, Bethlehem 9700, Republic of South Africa; 4USAID, REDSO/ESA, PO Box 30261, Nairobi, Kenya; 5Post Graduate School of Agriculture and Rural Development, Faculty of Biological and Agricultural Sciences, University of Pretoria, 0002, Republic of South Africa
Background and objectives
Reduced funding, intensified competition and a new political dispensation in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) increasingly necessitate the tangible demonstration of the socio-economic benefits of agricultural research and development to society. Recognizing the need for planning and priority setting in the efficient allocation and mobilization of resources, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) initiated a series of activities to institutionalize impact assessment as a research management tool. A comprehensive impact assessment of the Russian wheat aphid integrated control program (RWA-ICP) was conducted as one of the case studies under this initiative .
The Russian wheat aphid (Diuraphis noxia), first noted in the RSA in 1978, is a serious wheat pest and may account for yield losses up to 92%. Initially, the problem was partly solved by chemical control with insecticides. This method is, however, expensive and harmful to the environment. Plant resistance work commenced in 1985 at the ARC-Small Grain Institute (ARC-SGI) and the first resistant cultivar was released in 1993. The ongoing research on biological control started in 1989 with the introduction of a parasitoid from Russia (Aphidius matricariae). Currently, the main strategy of the RWA-ICP involves the use of host-plant resistance, which will be supported by biological control through the mass release of natural enemies.
Materials and methods
Farm-level survey data were collected from both established and new entrant commercial wheat producers in the Central and Eastern Free State Province of the RSA, using a pre-tested standard questionnaire. Two variations of the economic surplus approach within a cost-benefit framework were used to estimate the returns on the research investment. Several sensitivity tests were also conducted. Benefits pertained to the yield advantage and reduction in chemical treatments associated with the research technology. Qualitative statements of the environmental, institutional and spill-over effects were also included.
Results and conclusions
The sample area under ARC-SGI resistant cultivars increased from 4% (1993) to 35% (1996), and is expected to further increase to 60% (2000). The economic analysis demonstrated the estimated rate of return (ROR) to be well over 34%. This was in line with the conclusions of an earlier study conducted in the RSA, which has shown the returns to public sector research to be 44%, with the benefits concentrated in the field crop and horticultural sub-sectors . Considering the base scenario of the RWA-ICP only, the net present value (NPV) of the research investment ranged between 13 and 43 million Rands at the 10% discount rate. If biological control is assumed to be effective from the year 2000, the ROR and NPV will reach a maximum of 43% (ROR) and 43 million Rands (NPV), respectively.
This study was the first of its kind to be conducted on a specific ARC project and constitutes a milestone towards improved farm-level monitoring and evaluation of agricultural research in the RSA.
1. Marasas CN, Anandajayasekeram P, Tolmay V et al., 1997. ARC/SACCAR Report, SACCAR, Gaborone, Botswana.
2. Khatri Y, Thirtle C, Van Zyl J, 1996. South African Journal of Science 92, 143-150.