New project to identify best approaches to improve agriculture in developing countries
Washington, D.C.—The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) launched a new project, Global Futures for Agriculture, to improve agricultural productivity and environmental sustainability in developing countries. Focused on evaluating promising technologies, investments, and policy reforms, the effort is supported with major funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
High global food prices in 2008 underscored the importance of research to help achieve the goals of feeding the world’s burgeoning population while protecting critical natural resources.
“Sustainable agricultural growth in developing countries is challenged as never before—by climate change, increasingly volatile food and energy markets, natural resource exploitation, and a growing population with aspirations for a better standard of living,” said Mark Rosegrant, director of Environment and Production Technology at IFPRI. “This research will prove invaluable to setting priorities for meeting these challenges and, ultimately, improving the lives of the world’s poorest people.”
The project will enable researchers to develop an enhanced version of 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 the effects of climate change, water availability and other major trends. Improvements to the IMPACT model will make it possible to more effectively evaluate potential research expenditures and their impact on the world’s most important crops, forests, and livestock. The research will focus on regions most vulnerable to global changes in the next 30 to 50 years, with special attention on the rural poor and smallholder farmers.
The research will assess how changes in global trading regimes, mandates for biofuels and energy prices, land degradation, and climate change affect human well-being. Additionally, it will consider how these trends affect developing countries’ progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. The analysis will improve upon previous research by incorporating:
- detailed location-specific data;
- climate, soil type, crop variety, and other critical variables;
- improved measurement of effects on human welfare; and
- the impact of potential agricultural investments on economic growth, incomes, and poverty alleviation.
IFPRI researchers will collaborate with other scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and leading public and private institutions around the world. The project aims to improve the capacity of the CGIAR centers to evaluate and prioritize research investments, and to support the decision-making of international development partners and national policymakers.
“This research will give those of us who work in agricultural development the kinds of information we need to make the best decisions to support small farmers so they can boost their yields, increase their incomes and improve their lives,” said Prabhu Pingali, deputy director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
This grant is part of the foundation’s Agricultural Development initiative, which is working with a wide range of partners to provide millions of small farmers in the developing world with tools and opportunities to boost their yields, increase their incomes, and build better lives for themselves and their families. The foundation is working to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain—from seeds and soil to farm management and market access—so that progress against hunger and poverty is sustainable over the long term.