As IFPRI continues to broaden its scope while honing its focus, decentralization through country-specific strategies plays an ever more important role. In the coming year, the Institute will launch a strategy
support program—the first of its strategy programs in South Asia—in Bangladesh, where approximately 50 million people live in extreme poverty. Follow-up on many of the topics discussed at the successful Bangladesh Food Security Investment Forum, hosted by the Government of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Food and Disaster Management and facilitated by IFPRI and other partners, led to a number of opportunities for collaboration on research and interventions. (See Theme 7 for more information.)
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region also faces daunting challenges to food security: a population that is projected to double by 2050; high levels of unemployment, poverty, and malnutrition; and the highest dependency on food imports worldwide. IFPRI’s newly structured MENA regional strategy provides policy recommendations to address these challenges, including improving water management; empowering women; tailoring social policies to target the extremely poor; and diversifying jobs beyond oil exports to reduce the risks associated with international oil price fluctuations. In Yemen, IFPRI has collaborated with the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation to develop a food security strategy. Currently, researchers are providing support for strategy implementation and capacity building as they work with the Ministry to develop a seven-point action plan to improve food security.
Another important recent output was the book Successes in African Agriculture,
which describes development strategies that effectively reversed the persistent decline in per capita agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa over the past 50 years. Among other case studies, the authors highlight maize farming in East and Southern Africa, cassava farming across the middle belt of Africa, cotton in West Africa, horticulture in Kenya, and dairy farming in East Africa.
Evaluating the effectiveness of public investment—that is, how such investment translates into development outcomes—is an essential component of development strategies. Along these lines, in 2009 IFPRI researchers conducted a public expenditure review in Nigeria that led to the implementation of a national food security program. The Institute has also provided ongoing research and analysis to other African countries as they develop rural strategies aligned with the principles of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). Many of these countries have also held CAADP Roundtables, where key players gathered to develop road maps for the future, and signed CAADP Compacts spelling out agreed-upon priority areas for investment.
In the past year, research activities in this area that aim to strengthen the linkages between rural and urban areas in order to reduce poverty and food insecurity, have successfully expanded to include migration and rural industrialization. A migration survey in Ethiopia, which ultimately generated three papers, was presented at numerous conferences worldwide last year, and the migration research team is embarking on a similar panel survey in Malawi to evaluate how the rural poor use seasonal and permanent migration to both diversify income and mitigate income shocks related to health and climate risks. Researchers are also analyzing panel data to examine how Bangladeshis used migration in response to the recent food crisis. In the area of rural industrialization, four in-depth case studies in China and Ethiopia have shown clustering to be one way entrepreneurs overcome financial and institutional constraints. Outputs from this research include review articles, papers, conference presentations, and a background report on regional development in China that will be included in the country’s five-year plan.