Archive

Posts Tagged ‘agricultural R&D’

Ex-ante Evaluation of Improved Potato Varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa

This morning we presented our paper titled “Ex-ante Evaluation of Improved Potato Varieties for Sub-Saharan Africa” at the 9th Triennial Conference of the Africa Potato Association.

The paper features a forward looking analysis of the economic and social impacts of improved potato varieties in the region. We analyze a virtual investment project which involves the improvement and dissemination of potatoes in nine target countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.

The analysis employs the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) which has been developed at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Taking into account spill over effects across markets and countries, the analysis finds positive net welfare effects at the global level. Effects of the intervention on potato supply in the target countries range from 0.5% to 8.5%. Potato producers in these countries are found to benefit, but producers of other commodities and in other countries beyond the region are negatively affected. Lower market prices for potatoes and other commodities lead to welfare gains to consumers worldwide and in the region. At the level of the target countries, the improved potato varieties are found to generate returns on investment between 20% and over 70%, depending mainly on the level of adoption.

The analysis shows that investing in crop improvement and variety development for Sub-Saharan Africa can be a worthwhile undertaking with returns that easily justify intervention. However, it also highlights the importance of variety diffusion for the intra-regional distribution and the magnitude of the impacts and points to the importance of paying attention to quality attributes in breeding for high market acceptance and suggests putting emphasis in seed systems development and other interventions to promote quick dissemination and high adoption levels.

The full paper will be available in the conference proceedings.

Advertisements

Reaching Out To RTB Experts Around the World

The CRP RTB blog reports about our work in the priority setting exercise, in particular about the global expert surveys on priorities for RTB research we are currently carrying out for that program:

More than 800 experts have already provided input into an ongoing assessment of research priorities for Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), the results of which will be used to guide RTB research in the coming years.

From potato breeders in Bolivia to plantain pathologists in East Africa, experts on the principal Root, Tuber and Banana crops have filled out surveys on production constraints and the research needs for addressing them. In doing so, they’ve contributed to an ambitious global assessment of research priorities that will help the management of RTB, a CGIAR Research Program, to set goals and allocate resources for improving the food security, diet and incomes of some of the world’s poorest people.

Crop surveys for bananas and plantains, cassava, potatoes, sweetpotatoes and yams can be complete online at the RTB website until February 28. They are part of a dynamic, six-stage process that aims to involve the greatest number of stakeholders possible in a strategic assessment of research priorities. That assessment includes a comprehensive literature review and the creation of an online RTB Atlas, in conjunction with the CGIAR Consortium for Spatial Information (CSI). The surveys, however, are especially important, because they allow RTB to get input from an array of stakeholders with diverse backgrounds, such as crop experts at advanced research centers or representatives of government institutions and NGOs.

Guy Hareau, an agricultural economist at the International Potato Center (CIP) who is coordinating the assessment with colleagues from the four CGIAR research centers participating in RTB, said he hopes that more than 1,000 people will complete crop surveys. Hareau and his colleagues in the priority assessment team have compiled lists of experts in the different RTB crops and regions and have contacted them by email requesting that they complete the survey for their crop.

Expert surveys can be completed online in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese or Chinese. They should take no longer than 25 minutes to complete, and the process can be interrupted and resumed at any time.

Hareau and colleagues have also attended various international conferences on RTB crops, where they’ve gotten more than 400 researchers to complete surveys on the spot.

“We introduced the assessment at the Conference of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (held in Kampala, Uganda in June of 2012) and got 200 people to fill out the survey in half an hour. It was our most efficient day yet,” Hareau said.

After the survey process is closed at the end of February, Hareau and colleagues will analyze the results and compile a short list of 6-8 research options for each RTB crop. In addition to global results, they will identify research priorities for specific regions and agroecologies. They will then do impact modeling and economic and other analyses of the shortlisted options, and share their findings online.

“It is important that the stakeholders not only have an opportunity to provide their input, but also that we share the results with them,” Hareau said, adding that RTB will solicit feedback on the assessment’s results, though he isn’t sure exactly how they will go about it.

That process will get a test run in April of 2013 with banana and plantain experts participating in a Global Musa Expert Workshop organized by Biodiversity International in Kampala, Uganda. Those participants who haven’t completed the crop survey will be asked to do so on the first day. The results will then be computed and presented to participants, who will join work groups to discuss them and provide recommendations.

Ulrich Kleinwechter, who is working on the assessment at CIP, noted that in addition to providing quality information for RTB decision makers, it is contributing to a process of cooperation and knowledge sharing that will be key to the research program’s success, since it involves a transparent process of stakeholder consultation.

Kleinwechter observed that the assessment builds on a tradition of priority setting at the four centers, but involves a much larger pool of crops and participants. It is the first time such a study has been conducted simultaneously by four CGIAR Research Centers for so many crops.

In addition to Hareau and Kleinwechter, the assessment team’s members are Tahirou Abdoulaye, Joseph Rusike and Holger Kirscht, at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Bernardo Creamer and Glenn Hyman, at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and Diemuth Pemsl and Charles Staver, at Biodiversity International.

Addressing gender in priority setting for agricultural research

06/12/2012 4 comments

An interesting contribution to the first Global Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development discusses when and how to address gender in agriculture. While it is worthwhile to read the whole paper, in particular the demands towards priority setting for agricultural R&D that are formulated attracted my attention:

  • Where and how are the differential needs, interests, and priorities of women and men reflected? For example, are women farmers’ associations consulted at any point? Do female farmers have a voice in male-dominated farmer associations?
  • Who makes the decisions regarding the kinds of agricultural R&D that will receive investment? This leads to consideration of the representation of women in management at the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and national agricultural research centers.
  • Are there mechanisms to take the needs of women and men as both producers and consumers into account? We will address this question in detail in the following section of the paper; however, it is important to note that it relates even to the way “agricultural research” is defined. Conventional definitions have been gender biased, focusing on activities most likely to be dominated by men, such as the production of field crops. Activities of greater salience to women—such as homestead gardens, postharvest processes, supply chains, and nutrition outcomes—have, in comparison, been neglected. Thus, thinking of “agriculture” in terms of “food” is likely to lead to a more gender balanced picture. In addition, research priorities on postharvest processing and the broader food sector—which includes fish, livestock, garden production, water, trees, soils, and natural resources—needs to be conducted not only with the aim of reaching high-value markets, but also to ensure food safety and reduce drudgery (which tends to be borne most often by women).

The first point highlights the importance of getting the voices of women heard. The second point concerns the influence of women in the decision making at the level of the research institutions (good question: how well are women represented at the research management levels of the CGIAR?). The third point asks about the potential impact of the products of agricultural R&D, i.e. how women are affected by a particular output of agricultural research. It also calls for orienting agricultural research towards areas where women can benefit.

With his analysis, the authors certainly hits the mark. At the operational level of priority setting, however, the last point is probably the most challenging. How can we adequately assess the gender impacts of a particular research activity? Taking into account that priority setting often takes place at a relatively aggregate level, how can we deal with the complexity of gender, which very often depends on micro-level factors, such as power relationships within a household?

Comments are highly welcome!

New global assessment of agricultural R&D spending

asti_infographic

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.