Posts Tagged ‘impact assessment’

Simulation modeling for foresight analysis and ex-ante impact assessment in potato and sweetpotato

Is it possible to use large scale agricultural simulation models for the analysis of crops like potatoes and sweetpotatoes?

Yes! The Global Futures for Agriculture and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project, which has the objective of developing and applying an integrated simulation modeling framework for the comprehensive analysis of trends and technology impacts in the CGIAR mandate crops and systems, is doing exactly this. At least the part of this research collaboration of all in all 12 centers of the CGIAR which is taking place at the International Potato Center (CIP), as was explained in a seminar held on 24 April 2014 at the CIP Headquarters in Lima.

The core component of the modeling framework developed in the project is the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), an economic partial equilibrium model of the world agricultural sector. IMPACT has the capability of generating forward looking global analyses of supply, demand, prices and trade of 56 agricultural commodities in 320 geographic regions, taking into account major drivers like

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What is (agricultural) economics worth?

The philosophers Alex Rosenberg and Tyler Curtain inquire in the New York Times about the possible contributions of economics, in spite of it’s poor track record of making reliable predictions:

[…] economics has never been able to show the record of improvement in predictive successes that physical science has shown through its use of harmless idealizations. In fact, when it comes to economic theory’s track record, there isn’t much predictive success to speak of at all. [..]

The point they make is that economic theory can make a big contribution to

[…] the design and management of institutions that will protect us from […] those parts of our selves tempted to opportunism, free riding and generally avoiding the costs of civil life while securing its benefits. […] Fixing bad economic and political institutions (concentrations of power, collusions and monopolies), improving good ones (like the Fed’s open-market operations), designing new ones (like electromagnetic bandwidth auctions), in the private and public sectors, are all attainable tasks of economic theory.

A good point, indeed.

From the perspective of an agricultural economist working on the impact assessment of agricultural research, there is another example for the worth of economics:

Even when applying only simple and stylized models, the exchange with scientists from other disciplines (i.e., those who typically develop new agricultural technologies) and decision makers (research managers and donors) about the assumptions made in these models and the results they generate adds an important — the economic — dimension to the work of these colleagues. Thereby, they become informed about aspects of their work they otherwise would neglect. This enables them to better judge the value of their work and make better decisions about the design and future directions of their research programs.

As an example, economists would apply a simple model to estimate the economic surplus effects of a given new agricultural technology. A crucial parameter in such a model is the expected adoption rate of the new technologies. In order to arrive at an estimate about this parameter, economists would discuss with crop scientists the expected magnitude of adoption. Being the suppliers and “owners” of the technology, crop scientists would tend to be rather optimistic. Economists, in contrast, would seek to factor in aspects like cost changes associated with the technology or market demand that may act as drivers or impediments to technology diffusion, and possibly arrive at more cautious estimates.

Such a discussion process will provide crop scientists with a clearer picture about the likelihood of success of their research outputs and, in particular if done for several alternative options for research and technology development, lead to better decisions about the design of a research portfolio.

Global Banana Expert Workshop starts today

Today (actually, in these minutes) starts the Global Banana Expert Workshop, which for the next four days brings together more than 40 banana experts from advanced research institutions and leading banana producing countries. The experts will work in multidisciplinary groups to work on the priorization of production constraints and options for international research in bananas and plantains. They will estimate yield gaps and estimate parameters for the later use in impact assessment models.

The event is co-hosted by NARO, Bioversity International and IITA. It takes place in Kampala, Uganda and is part of the ongoing priority setting exercise of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (CRP RTB). What makes this event special, is the continued involvement of the online community. Throughout the workshop, outcomes will be posted on an eForum and comments from the community will be fed back into the discussions.