The production and use of evidence for agricultural policy is critical to prioritizing and targeting effective agricultural transformation reforms in African countries. International development organizations have supported programmes that promote evidence-informed policies, however, this support has often been focused on short-term and externally driven solutions, with limited impact in the long run. Faced with this scenario, there is now a growing interest in the role of resilient and sustainable national systems that can generate organic evidence-informed agricultural policy. Yet, there is limited knowledge on how to map out and analyse such systems, which is critical to fostering their emergence and the later uptake of evidence in policymaking.
This study draws on ecological science and social network analysis to develop and test a framework that can help understand evidence-policy systems and their potential to sustainably promote evidence-informed policymaking in the agricultural sector. Applying this framework in Benin, the study found that beyond the Ministry of Agriculture, other organizations produce, broker or use evidence such as data, research, evaluation and expert knowledge in a context that is influenced by the institutional rules and setup, the incentives in place and the funding landscape. Furthermore, the paper analyses the sustainability of the evidence-policy system in Benin through its power, resilience and capability. Finally, it provides policy recommendations with the key entry points to improve on and how a system like this can be used to improve agricultural policymaking.