Public investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure is an important driver of agricultural growth and has a significant bearing on poverty outcomes. Determining the right levels and types of investments requires that policymakers have reliable and context-specific information about the impacts of different types of public investments. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) initiated its Global Research Program on Priorities for Public Investment in Agriculture and Rural Areas (GRP-3) in 1998 to provide such information.
An evaluation of the outputs and impacts of the research program was recently conducted. GRP-3 evolved out of earlier research at IFPRI on the impacts alternative types of public spending have on income and poverty outcomes in India and China. That work indicated that public investments in infrastructure—in particular, roads, agricultural research and development (R&D), and education—yielded sizeable marginal benefits in terms of poverty alleviation and income generation in rural areas. This line of research was later expanded under GRP-3 to encompass a number of countries in Africa and, to a lesser extent, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. A second major (and ongoing) thrust of the program has been to support African governments in establishing public investment priorities and strategies for promoting rural economic growth and poverty alleviation. Major activities undertaken include providing analytical and institutional support to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and evaluating individual publicly funded programs in several African countries.