|Mobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)|
|Chapter 5 - Conclusions and Emerging Challenges|
The major conclusions of the Panel and their implications are as follows:
1. The overall performance of IFPRI has been impressive during the period under review. It has achieved a good balance between the quality and relevance of research, strong linkages with other CG Centres and developing country institutions, initiation and formalization of multiple outreach activities to enhance the impact of its policy research, and a significant expansion of financial and human resources. The gender balance at the senior research staff level has improved, but there has been no improvement in the proportion of developing country professionals at that level. IFPRIs published outputs have increased more in respect of articles in major professional journals than by way of research reports. The Panel has learned, however, that a large number of draft research reports are in the pipeline and that the output in terms of research reports will more than double in the next two years.
2. IFPRIs 2020 initiative has received well deserved praise internationally for its timely focus on the likely global trends and their policy implications, drawing upon the Centres past work and other relevant evidence from elsewhere. Within IFPRI, it offered an innovative approach towards the synthesis and integration of the different streams of outputs and insights from its various divisions and for the effective use of the resulting information to achieve greater visibility for the Centre and attract the attention of donors as well as developing country policy makers. The Panel is, however, of the view that IFPRI should set realistic targets for its involvement in the follow-up activities being planned at country and regional levels, given the limited analytical and organizational capabilities of its potential collaborators.
3. The leadership of the Centre has done an outstanding job of restoring organizational cohesion, morale and stability after a period of internal turmoil and uncertainty. The Director General, Board of Trustees, the Senior Management Team and the entire staff deserve credit for this turnaround and for working together to steadily expand and strengthen the Centres output, productivity and impact. IFPRI now has effective governance. The initiative under way for further organizational strengthening is a step in the right direction.
4. IFPRIs current mission and priorities are on the whole consistent with CG goals and priorities. The research issues on its agenda and its major research outputs are pertinent to the tasks of poverty alleviation and the achievement of food security and environmental sustainability in developing countries. Its resource allocation among major research programs reaffirms this finding. But the strategy IFPRI has set for itself is also more complex and demanding than that of conventional research organizations because of its dual emphasis on both research and outreach. The integration of the strands of research and outreach is by no means simple or self sustaining, and will call for careful planning, orchestration and monitoring by senior management. Its nurturing will require a sensitive balancing of the professional commitment to quality and standards with the concern for enhancing the Centres influence on developing country policies.
5. The Panel has offered a number of suggestions to improve the integration of research and outreach in IFPRI. Research and outreach should not be seen as separate activities conducted by two separate groups. Much of the responsibility for outreach should be embedded within research activities. IFPRI can enhance the quality of the integration and increase the relevance of its work by synthesizing more of its outputs for the benefit of its policy audiences. It needs to take advantage of new ways to listen to and incorporate developing country concerns in its programmes. It is necessary to bring on board more persons who combine research and policy experience, especially developing country professionals, at the senior staff level. The Centre should define the scope and limits of its outreach function more carefully and put in place organizational mechanisms to achieve effective integration with research so as to maximize institutional cohesion and create a greater sense of identification with the new challenges being placed before the staff.