Five policy briefing papers to help shape debates on agricultural policies in sub-Saharan Africa have been launched in Nairobi, Kenya.

The briefs summarise the findings of a group African researchers who presented their synthesis papers at a regional workshop organised by the Global Development Network (GDN) to present an African perspective on agricultural research and policy issues.

The GDN Global Research Project, ‘Supporting Policy Research to Inform Agricultural Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia’, is designed as a policy research project to enrich the body of knowledge related to agricultural issues.

Over the last 12 months, five research teams from leading African universities have reviewed extensive published and unpublished research in five areas that affect agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa in order to bring forth policy issues that are relevant to the region.

Attending the event were 40 leading representatives from the governments of Kenya, Ghana and Zambia, the World Bank, regional research institutes, agribusiness as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supported this research.

Opening the event, Zambia’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Rodgers Mwewa, said “much work needs to be done to improve the understanding of contemporary agricultural policy making processes in the region. Some of the challenges being faced in agricultural research and policy making and implementation include, among others, inadequate funding, weak research-extension-farmer-input supplier linkages, lack or inadequate logistical support, low staff motivation and poor management and coordination.”

“I wish to urge participants to continue to use programmes such as the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) process to engage policy makers on the need for increased investment in research,” the Minster said.

The policy research papers looked at: Irrigation and Water Use Efficiency; Agricultural Pricing and Public Procurement; Managing Agricultural Commercialisation; Long-term Challenges to Food Security and Rural Livelihoods; and Improving Effectiveness, Efficiency and Sustainability of Fertilizer Use.

A further five briefing papers will be produced on the same themes from a South Asian perspective in Colombo, Sri Lanka in November 2012.

“It’s really important that research becomes more accessible to policymakers in Africa, therefore the purpose of the policy briefing papers is to help policymakers in Africa to apply available research evidence and overcome a lack of access to information, said George Mavrotas, Project Director and Chief Economist at Global Development Network (GDN).

“This lack of access to research is the reason why GDN and leading agricultural policy researchers have been working on the GDN project across the Sub-Saharan Africa”, he said.

GDN have made both the Policy Briefing Papers and their longer Synthesis Papers available online, via mobile technology and mobile apps, in order to meet as wide a range of audiences as possible.