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close this bookMobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)
close this folderChapter 1 - Introduction and Evolution of IFPRI
View the document1.1 Origin, Mission and Mandate
View the document1.2 Policy Research and CGIAR Priorities and Strategies
View the document1.3 Priorities and Strategies for IFPRI’s Research
View the document1.4 IFPRI Today
View the document1.5 Conduct of the Review

1.3 Priorities and Strategies for IFPRI’s Research

In developing its 1998-2000 Medium-Term Plan, IFPRI reassessed its mandate formulated in 1991 and included in IFPRI’s Strategy for the 1990s. Although IFPRI still considers the 1991 strategy as relevant in providing an overall framework for the Institute’s activities, in 1996 the Institute also developed a global vision, a mission, a business vision, and a research strategy. Accordingly, IFPRI aims “to organize and undertake research and outreach in a manner that will generate international public goods - knowledge relevant/or decision makers both inside and outside the countries where the research is undertaken and expected to result in large benefits to society, but unlikely to be undertaken by the private sector - while simultaneously seeking to contribute to a cohesive body of knowledge needed by decision makers in collaborating countries.

As discussed in the Stripe Review, IFPRI is one of many organizations involved in food policy research for developing countries. Many universities, government agencies, non-government organizations, and national and international research organizations are also involved in this type of work. Several multilateral organizations, such as FAO, IFAD, WFP, and the World Bank, play important roles in conducting policy studies on agriculture and poverty reduction and undertake some research.

IFPRI, therefore, attempts to ensure that its research activities are complementary to and do not replicate the efforts of others. To this end the Institute maintains collaborative relationships with over 125 other organizations, more than half of which are located in developing countries. The Institute intends to expand this number greatly during the MTP period. According to IFPRI, however, there are fewer organizations conducting food policy research today than there were five years ago.

Priority setting at IFPRI is not guided by a formal or quantitative priority-setting model. The Institute uses a conceptual, qualitative approach based on staff judgements. Broad thematic priorities are first set at the Institute level. Programme priorities are subsequently set at the divisional level.

To identify priority research areas, two major criteria are used:

1: Expected poverty reductions for current and future generations for each dollar spent by IFPRI, determined using the following variables:

· the number of poor, food-insecure, and malnourished people likely to be affected by policy changes;

· the extent to which new knowledge is required to guide decision making on policies that aim to alleviate poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition while conserving natural resources;

· the likelihood that knowledge from policy research will influence future policy debates and decisions;

· the opportunities for capitalizing on past policy research; and

· the comparative advantage of belonging to the CGIAR, including opportunities for enhancing the overall impact of the work of the CGIAR and associated international research centres.

2: Expected impact on the food policy research capacity of developing countries.

Once the research areas are selected, IFPRI uses a further set of criteria to determine its geographic priorities and the choice of study countries. Examples are the need for broad country representation so that results can be generalized; availability and interest of national collaborators; potential benefits to the poor of the country; logistical and security conditions; opportunities for collaboration; and availability of resources.

The priorities set after evaluation using these criteria are subsequently discussed internally and in a series of research-planning meetings with outside experts and stakeholders.