Comprehensive information on agricultural research and development (R&D) conducted by the private sector is limited. ASTI and Rutgers University attempted to fill this knowledge gap by conducting in-depth surveys during 2009–11 on the private sector’s role in research and innovation in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. The findings of these surveys will be posted on the ASTI website in the coming weeks. The Senegal country note and country report are the first in a series providing insight into policy and institutional issues constraining private investment, and options for addressing these constraints.
In 2008, private companies represented just 14 percent of Senegal’s total agricultural R&D spending, with the public sector (mainly ISRA, ITA, and the universities) carrying out the vast majority. The reasons for this limited private involvement in agricultural R&D in Senegal are manifold. Many private companies operate with limited competition, discouraging future R&D investment. Furthermore, most companies lack long-term vision when it comes to the benefits of research, and many believe that new technologies will eventually spillover from the public sector or from abroad, eliminating their need to invest their resources. A more enabling environment for private R&D needs to be created to change this perspective. A large number of companies mentioned that government policies and regulations (and their poor implementation) hamper large-scale private R&D and innovation. Among those cited were the lengthy administrative procedures required to import agricultural inputs; the stringent regulations involved in registering and releasing new products; the lack of enforcement of laws to eliminate unfair foreign competition that disadvantages Senegalese companies; the widespread piracy of private innovations, and the lack of tax incentives to reward companies who invest in innovation.
Nonetheless, the Senegalese government has taken various measures in recent years to stimulate private participation in agricultural R&D and innovation. Regional seed, fertilizer, pesticide, and livestock regulations have been harmonized to reduce trade barriers in the subregion. Additional national initiatives, such as the establishment of the competitive fund, FNRAA, to stimulate private-sector involvement in R&D and the launch of the ambitious government plan to boost food production, GOANA, have provided tremendous opportunities to the private sector and have enhanced public–private partnerships in agricultural R&D and innovation.
Despite the limited overall involvement of the private sector in agricultural R&D and innovation in Senegal, the private sector plays an important innovative role in key export areas. While the government sector dominates the country’s agricultural R&D system when it comes to food crops, companies like SENCHIM, Suneor, SODEFITEX, and SPIA are major innovators in the groundnut and cotton subsectors, which provide Senegal with its principal export crops. The horticultural and fisheries subsectors have also demonstrated their capacity to innovate in recent years. Innovations in food processing, storage, and packaging have enabled many Senegalese products to meet strict European quality and hygiene standards, boosting Senegal’s exports in these areas. In addition, an increasing number of private innovations are being patented, both locally and abroad.