Does agricultural research reduce poverty among smallholder farmers? The case of Tanzania
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This article discusses poverty reducing effects of agricultural research, based on existing impact assessment studies from Tanzania. Agricultural research and extension in Tanzania has largely been a public undertaking, and has been characterized by frequent organizational changes. A total of 1203 agricultural research projects implemented during the 1980s and 1990s have been identified in the Southern Highlands and Eastern Zones of the country. For most of these projects, impact studies have not been made on project level. While conventional impact assessment of agricultural research has mainly focused on adoption of technologies, increased yields and rates of return to investments in agricultural research, there is now a growing interest in seeking evidence on to what extent agricultural research contributes to poverty reduction. Existing impact studies on programme level from Tanzania show that several technologies and improved crop varieties have been released and adopted by farmers, in many cases with good impacts in terms of household economy as well as socio-cultural and environmental parameters. Through increased farm income and improvements in food security agricultural research has a potential to reduce poverty among smallholder farmers. Most of the past impact studies are however not well designed to analyse to what extent this potential is fulfilled.