Posts Tagged ‘ex-ante impact assessment’

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.

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!

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.

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.