Comparing modeling approaches for assessing priorities in international agricultural research

Athanasios Petsakos, Guy Hareau, Ulrich Kleinwechter, Keith D. Wiebe, Timothy B. Sulser
Research Evaluation

This article examines how the estimated impacts of crop technologies vary with alternate methods and assumptions, and also discusses the implications of these differences for the design of studies to inform research prioritization. Drawing on international potato research, we show how foresight scenarios, realized by a multi-period global multi-commodity equilibrium model, can affect the estimated magnitudes of welfare impacts and the ranking of different potato research options, as opposed to the static, single-commodity, and country assumptions of the economic surplus model which is commonly used in priority setting studies. Our results suggest that the ranking of technologies is driven by the data used for their specification and is not affected by the foresight scenario examined. However, net benefits vary significantly in each scenario and are greatly overestimated when impacts on non-target countries are ignored. We also argue that the validity of the single-commodity assumption underpinning the economic surplus model is case-specific and depends on the interventions examined and on the objectives and criteria included in a priority setting study.

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