Archive for October, 2012

The Future of “Global Futures”

It is really nice to read this news on the website of the CRP Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) about the continuation of the Global Futures project under the umbrella of PIM. Among others, it says that

The Global Futures project, initially a 3 year effort supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is designed to evaluate the impact of potential investments in research on the world’s most important crops, focusing on the regions most vulnerable to global changes, with special attention to the needs of the rural poor and
smallholder farmers. The inclusion of these activities under PIM starting in 2012 will enable more CGIAR centers to participate in the effort and allow for a systematization of the methodologies used to evaluate the promising technologies.

The full post also provides a link to a presentation “From Global Futures to Strategic Foresight” held by project leader Gerald Nelson (IFPRI) at GCARD2.

New global assessment of agricultural R&D spending


Accelerated spending in agricultural research (Source: IFPRI, click here for the original and larger version).

The International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) and the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) have just published their new Global Assessment of Agricultural R&D Spending. As the report shows, global spending on agricultural R&D has increased by 22% during the period from 2000 to 2008, following a decade of weak spending growth during the 1990s.

Spending in developing countries as a whole has increased steadily, but this growth has been mainly driven by a few larger middle-income countries, such as China and India, while in a number of smaller countries spending has declined. In high-income countries, spending growth got slower during the past decade. Interestingly, however, the research intensity ratios, which relate agricultural R&D spending to agricultural GDP, have remained constant in developing countries but increased in high-income countries. The report provides some interesting explanations for this phenomenon.

In general, the report is a worthwhile reading. But unfortunately, the data analyzed ends with the year 2008. It will become very interesting to see in a future edition of the report whether the food price events of 2007/2008 and the recently rising food prices will have had an impact of spending on agricultural R&D.

Rural-urban migrants and their contribution to rural development

Migration impactsRural-urban migration has the potential to unfold a range of positive impacts on the development of the migrants’ home communities and the rural economy as a whole. Dealing with the case of China, I am exploring this issue in a paper titled “Rural-urban migration in China: An analytical framework of migrants’ contributions to rural development” which just got published in the latest edition of the Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences.

The paper relies on a review of literature from the fields of sociology, geography and economics to construct an analytical framework of positive contributions of China’s internal migrants on the development of source communities, of the migration process itself and of the institutional, administrative and social contexts of migration. It highlights interactions between these contexts on the one hand and the migration process and the associated contributions of migrants on the other hand. The framework provides a guideline for approaching similar problems elsewhere and offers support in the identification and assessment of possible policy interventions.

An earlier version of the paper was presented at the WorldBank‘s International Conference on Diaspora for Development which took place in Washington D.C. from July 13-14, 2009.

GCARD and the need for foresight

Glad to find this this post on The GCARD Blog: Talking about the need for foresight, GCARD states that

The future of agriculture, the future of rural and global poverty, the future of food and nutrition security and the future of our natural resources, will depend on the decisions we are making today.

These decisions have not only to answer the urgent and burning issues we are currently facing, but have also to integrate the challenges of the future. Research, innovation and policies are expected to provide answers or solutions to current problems where they can. They are also expected to anticipate and prevent future problems.

Forward looking, anticipatory research and analysis are particularly adapted to shed light on this complexity. It is impossible to predict what will happen in the long-term; but it is possible to inform on what could happen.

GCARD adopts the definition of the European Commission of foresight as

a process which combines three fundamental elements: prospective (long-term or forward-looking) approaches, planning -including policy-making and priority-setting- approaches, and participative approaches, engaging stakeholders and knowledge sources.

Given that a substantial part of our work (e.g. the Global Futures Project or priority setting for the CRP-RTB) takes place in precisely that area the corresponding sessions at the GCARD2 conference are highly interesting.

Global impacts of targeted interventions in food security crops

Image Poster Targeted InterventionsAt the 28th International Conference of Agricultural Economists (ICAE) which took place in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil from August 18-24, 2012, we presented a visual presentation of a paper titled Global impacts of targeted interventions in food security crops – the case of potatoes in developing countries.

The paper presents a simulation analysis of the global effects of interventions oriented at increasing productivity in potato production in 30 developing countries which are of priority for CIP‘s agricultural research for development. The simulation was carried out using the IMPACT global agricultural sector model. Simulation results show that the interventions lead to higher potato supply in target regions and globally but lower production in non-target regions and of non-target commodities. Demand for potatoes as food is projected to increase, but entails substitution away from other commodities. This substitution in food consumption would lead to weakly positive, but not significant, effects on food security. Market prices for potatoes and other commodities would decline slightly.

A principal aim of the simulations made for the paper was to explore and assess the depiction of potato production and consumption in the model. Accordingly, the paper identifies a number of aspects which can be improved to arrive at more robust results for the potatoes commodity in IMPACT simulations.  These aspects include an increase in the spatial disaggregation of the simulation units on the supply and demand side, a better depiction of subsistence production and a review of the tradability assumptions in the model.

Global Futures for Agriculture

16/10/2012 3 comments

My principal activity at CIP is the work in the Global Futures for Agriculture Project. Global Futures, an IFPRI-led project, is designed to assess alternative options for improving agricultural productivity in developing countries. The project is focused on the evaluation of promising technologies for agricultural production in order to identify investments with the highest potential benefits and thereby support the CGIAR in priority setting and strategic planning.

Further objectives of the project are to deepen our understanding of the complex linkages among socioeconomic and environmental change, the functioning of agricultural systems and human well-being and to provide an improved representation of agricultural systems and their potential role in enhancing human well-being. A comprehensive modeling environment integrating socioeconomic, biophysical, and technological responses to simulate global, regional and local consequences of technology investments in the context of changing policies and natural resource threats is developed and applied.

To achieve the goals of the project, economists, plant breeders and crop modelers cooperate in the project to obtain estimates of likely productivity changes brought about by technological innovations for the mandate crops of the nine CGIAR Centers which participate in the project and the subsequent assessment of economic and food security impacts of these changes.

The project employs and enhances IFPRI’s International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), a state-of-the-art economic model that projects the future production, consumption, and trade of key agricultural commodities, and can assess effects of climate change, water availability and other major trends. This model is coupled with crop models of the DSSAT crop modeling system which provides inputs on productivity impacts of virtual agricultural technologies under different scenarios of climate change.