In 2010, the international development community focused on a range of complex issues—childhood malnutrition, natural disasters, volatile food prices, climate change, global trade—that require both immediate and long-term attention. As these subjects have direct implications for poverty and hunger, IFPRI sought ways to address them through evidence-based research, outreach, and concrete policy recommendations. For example, recent findings showed that the window of opportunity for improving children’s nutrition spans the 1,000-day period between conception and a child’s second birthday because, after the age of two, the negative effects of undernutrition are largely irreversible; subsequently, IFPRI recommended that governments invest in nutrition interventions targeting mothers and infants. IFPRI’s research in Pakistan after the devastating 2010 floods led to policy-relevant observations on post-disaster recovery, including the need to strengthen institutions in developing countries so they are better prepared to coordinate large-scale responses to potential natural disasters. In response to the topic of volatile food prices, IFPRI recommended that, among other approaches, governments curtail biofuel subsidies and reform related policies, especially in the United States and Europe, to reduce biofuels’ effects on food markets.
The Institute maintained its expertise in emerging issues like climate change and its reputation for using innovative food security assessments. IFPRI’s research leading up to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Cancún involved simulating future food security scenarios using different combinations of population, income levels, and climate. The interactive climate, agriculture, and socioeconomic maps developed for this study are among the newest of IFPRI’s internationally available knowledge products. In 2010, IFPRI also launched the Food Security Portal—which provides comprehensive, country-specific information on food policy changes—and the African Growth and Development Policy Modeling Consortium—which facilitates access to existing data, use of state-of-the-art economic modeling tools, and collaboration among African researchers.
Within the Institute itself, IFPRI experienced great growth and change in 2010. The budget increased substantially, and we hired a number of new staff members in our continued effort to decentralize and expand our influence in global food policy research and policymaking circles. Regional offices were opened for East and Southern Africa (in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) and West and Central Africa (in Dakar, Senegal), and new projects or country strategy support programs commenced, most notably in Bangladesh and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. IFPRI researchers also broke new ground in Latin America and the Middle East in the areas of safety nets and trade policy. These and similar changes allow our stakeholders better access to IFPRI’s resources while ensuring that IFPRI’s research remains innovative and unsurpassed within a constantly changing landscape. The Institute has also invested considerable resources into the CGIAR reforms, providing input on the Strategy Results Framework and preparing proposals on two major research programs: (1) Policies, Institutions, and Markets to Strengthen Food Security and Incomes for the Rural Poor, and (2) Agriculture for Improved Nutrition and Health. The reform process is an opportunity for IFPRI to strengthen its existing partnerships and forge new ones while contributing to the development of a high-quality research agenda.
Today’s food security challenges seem, at times, insurmountable. However, by providing evidence-based research on issues related to poverty and hunger reduction, effectively communicating findings from that research to policymakers and smallholders alike, and improving on-the-ground capacity, IFPRI strives to strengthen global food systems and food security. The Institute continues to search for innovations in food and nutrition policies, institutions, governance, and markets that will benefit the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. I am both proud and grateful to contribute to this important work.