Introduction from the Director General, Joachim von Braun

The world is facing protracted and especially difficult food and economic crises, with climate change presenting a growing challenge. Hunger is on the rise and the lives and health of millions of people are being compromised. A global response to the challenges facing the poor remains essential. Governments, development partners, the United Nations, the private sector, and civil-society organizations have responded at applaudable scale and speed. Still, more action targeting agricultural investment, food security, and nutrition is needed, and it must be sustained for years to come.

With research-based policy advice, IFPRI has met and will continue to meet the rising demand for policy solutions to food-security issues. In the past year, we have expanded our research on nutrition policy, trade policy, and agriculture-related climate-change policy, as well as on development strategies at the country level—especially in Africa. The Institute must embrace a well-defined, broad development-policy research agenda because agricultural development and food and nutrition security cannot be addressed in isolation. IFPRI has been actively involved in recent developments to strengthen the CGIAR and is actively contributing to the CGIAR’s new strategic framework.

As this annual report underlines, IFPRI’s main business is policy research. IFPRI is not only a leader in food and agricultural policy research, but it also ranks among the top 1 percent of the hundreds of institutions engaged in development economics research. Though the Institute’s focus is on high-quality research, this research has to have impact on policy to improve the livelihoods of the poor. To help translate research into action, IFPRI is committed to reaching decisionmakers with appropriate and timely information via dialogue, policy briefs, and other communications initiatives.

IFPRI has been a trusted source of knowledge for more than three decades. The Institute is now a globally positioned, decentralized research institute with more than one-third of its staff based in developing countries, and with about 400 national and regional partners. This decentralized and networked approach has facilitated our strength on the ground, which is so important for research-based support of ambitious policy change and institutional innovations in developing countries.

Thanks to our donors, the Institute’s financial situation in 2008 and 2009 was excellent. IFPRI’s 2009 budget reflects the heightened awareness of the need for increased and sustained investment in food-policy knowledge. The expanded base of research programs in 2009 is forecast to grow by about 20 percent compared to the 2008 budget, and is already on track to grow further in 2010.

I have tremendously enjoyed serving as IFPRI’s director general since 2002. I have decided to leave IFPRI at the end of this year—a decision that was not taken lightly, as I have spent 18 years of my professional career at this Institute. Personal and professional considerations have influenced this decision. With the leadership of IFPRI’s Board of Trustees and its Senior Management Team, the Institute is well poised to deal with the forthcoming transition within IFPRI and in the CGIAR reform. I would like to express my special thanks and appreciation to the Institute’s staff and their families for their commitment and support through the years.

Joachim von Braun