|Mobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)|
|Chapter 1 - Introduction and Evolution of IFPRI|
A favourable policy environment is crucial to achieving alleviation of poverty, food security, and sustainable management of natural resources, and hence is essential for the attainment of the mission and goals of the CGIAR. Policy research is, therefore, a fundamental activity for the System.
During 1995 TAC commissioned an inter-centre Stripe study on the future of policy and management, as well as institution-strengthening research and service in the CGIAR. As part of this study, a panel, chaired by Alain de Janvry, conducted a review to provide a strategic analysis of policy and management research in the CGIAR1 and its major future strategic directions. This study, and one on institutional strengthening were the basis on which TAC formulated its views on priorities and strategies in policy and management2 During 1995 policy research accounted for approximately 8 percent of the budget and 9 percent of the scientific staff of the CGIAR. Both the Stripe Study Panel and TAC noted that the CGIARs contribution to a world-wide effort on policy research was less than 2 percent, but that this investment is of critical importance for the operation of the System itself and for servicing the needs of its immediate national clients and partners; for maximizing the benefits of technological innovations in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries to the welfare of humanity, and for providing solutions to some of the broader problems the System addresses, such as reducing rural poverty, improving human nutrition, and achieving sustainable development.
1 TAC/CGIAR. 1996. Perspectives on Policy and Management Research in the CGIAR. SDR/TAC: IAR/95/26.1. TAC Secretariat, FAO, Rome.
2 TAC/CGIAR. 1996. Priorities and Strategies for Policy, Public Management and Institution Strengthening Research and Service in the CGIAR. SDR/TAC: IAR/96/4.1. TAC Secretariat, FAO, Rome.
Most of the CGIAR Centres undertake policy research, but it is the main activity only at IFPRI. Policy research, as defined by TAC and the Stripe Study3 is being undertaken in a majority of the CGIAR Centres, in varying degrees of importance. At CIFOR, ISNAR, IIMI and ILRI, it is an important and central component (6 to 15 percent of number of scientists in 1995); and at IRRI. CIMMYT. ICRISAT and IITA is a minor component (1.3 to 1.9 percent of number of scientists). This was a response to several specific questions voiced by CGIAR members and others concerning policy and public management research in the System. The most basic one was whether or not the System is doing the right kinds of policy, management and institution strengthening research and service work, and whether it is doing the right amount of such work. The overall conclusions of the Stripe Review Panel with regard to policy research in the CGIAR were that it:
· is running quite smoothly;
· is in most cases focused on the right issues;
· is of adequate quality;
· presently is funded at about the right level relative to the funding of the other activities in the System.
3 TAC states that: Policy research is distinguished here from the predominantly production economics research or socioeconomic analysis to evaluate technical options developed by centre researchers. It also is distinguished from the socioeconomic research carried out by centres in relation to assessments of farm organization, structure, and operation. While public policy research may use the same. microeconomics tools, and the results form socioeconomic work of centres, it is distinguished from the latter by being defined as research on the policy processes and the policy environments within which the results of technical research and socioeconomic and production economics research from the centres and national research systems are applied. Included under this heading is research that helps to define an appropriate agricultural and natural resources science policy for a country. Also included is research focused on public management as one of the tools or mechanisms for implementation of policies. (See SDR/TAC:IAR/96/4.1).
TAC generally agreed with these conclusions, although it saw the potential for benefit from certain internal shifts.
A second concern is more directly related to this EPMR, namely, the reliance on IFPRI for participation in their policy research in proposals made by the other centres in the System. Thus, policy research appears in almost all the Medium-Term Plans of CGIAR Centres, with IFPRI linked to the various proposals. This widespread inclusion of IFPRI was associated with at least two potential issues. First, some of the research proposed by centres is in the form of socio-economic research IFPRI has little reason to be involved with, since it is not part of IFPRIs strategic plan and MTP. Second, even in the case of legitimate policy research that also fits within IFPRIs mandate and strategic plan, IFPRI does not have the capacity nor budget to be involved in every project that is proposed.
The Stripe Study discussed these issues and provided a number of recommendations, including several that were addressed directly to the present IFPRI EPMR Panel.
The subjects of these recommendations have been integrated further on into the Panels assessments dealing with (a) IFPRIs program and present and future areas of emphasis, (b) IFPRIs linkages with ISNAR and other CGIAR Centres; (c) IFPRIs involvement in Systemwide Programmes (SWPs), including ecoregional initiatives; (d) IFPRIs allocation of resources to training and information programs; and (e) IFPRIs outreach and impacts.
In addition, the Stripe Study Panel had 13 recommendations directed specifically to IFPRI. The EPMR Panel is satisfied that IFPRI is addressing, or has addressed the recommendations related to: (a) making IFPRIs data more widely available for thesis research; (b) placing greater emphasis on outposting staff when appropriate (up from 7 to 14 senior staff since the Stripe Study); (c) making use of the internet for interactive activities on specific themes; (d) reviewing and assessing allocation of project funding in relation to programme effectiveness; (e) getting regional input in assessment of priorities for research; and (f) assessing the use of IFPRIs publications (see discussion Relevance and Impacts, Section 3.3).
The Panel addresses IFPRIs response to the other Stripe Study recommendations in its discussion under (a) outreach (information dissemination and courses and their evaluation) (Chapter 2.5); (b) international public goods nature of IFPRIs research (linking country specific to generic research themes) (Chapter 3.1); (c) linkages with other CGIAR Centres (Chapter 3.5). An overview of IFPRIs response to the recommendations of the Stripe Study is included as Appendix II.