1. Sharpening understandings:
"The political economy of poverty: Extent and dimensions"
Can a profile of poverty be synthesized from existing studies and data? What is known about global trends in poverty? In the urban sector? The rural sector? Is there a consensus about how to measure poverty? About its best indicators? What are the major contrasting differences in the dimensions of rural and urban poverty in each of the worlds major developing regions? How is poverty related to gender?
Through largely a review of existing literature, what can be said concerning the chief causes of poverty? By region? Sector?
What have been the main ingredients of poverty reduction programs? What are some of the new ingredients in poverty reduction programs? When poverty reduction programs do no work, what are the main obstacles? Is rural poverty reduction a sectorial program, or are poor rural inhabitants being generally addressed by institutions that are based outside the sector? Do poverty reduction programs view agricultural research as an ally, and is agricultural research in their toolbox?
2. Clarifying the research-poverty linkages:
"The contributions of agricultural research to poverty alleviation: Identifying and assessing the strengths of research-poverty linkage mechanisms"
When can agricultural research affect poverty and through which avenues? Can the relative importance of each avenue be quantified by looking at changes in "sources of income"? Is the picture different in LAC from that in Africa and Asia? What are some of the principal factors that "condition" poverty impact by enhancing or reducing the effects of technology on poverty? How may the relative importance of the main avenues have changed through time? How might they change in the future?
In a strict cost:benefit sense, is agricultural research an effective tool for warring on poverty? What bets have been missed, which should be covered in future designs of agricultural research projects? Can stakeholders supply good case studies ("success stories") of agricultural research-reducing poverty? What might be learned in this regard from the long history of Farming Systems Research and Extension, FSR/E? Can the NGO community supply some success stories? Should CGIAR centers pursue improved technologies for the same commodities in the future as in the past in the face of the globalization of the worlds economy and the opening of the Americas?
Has poverty been an effective demand factor that has influenced the agricultural research agenda? Do the poor really influence the research of the CGIAR centers? Of national and regional agricultural research programs? In public research institutions? In private ones? Is there appropriate "social capital" to facilitate interaction?
3. Testing the resource degradation-poverty linkage:
"Examining critically the vicious cycle hypothesis that poverty and natural resource degradation are intimately linked"
How do poverty maps generated recently at CIAT overlay maps of natural resource degradation? Is poverty a good predictor of natural resource degradation? And vice versa? Which are the key areas where the widely implemented soil erosion programs of LAC have worked? What have been some of the most important "success factors"? Are there good "win-win" examples here?
What economic incentives exist for environmentally prudent behavior by the poor? Is it unfair to lodge the blame for resource degradation with the poor? Do the rich deserve to be blamed? Are reforms of property rights sufficient to solve the problem? Or are there less site-specific sector policies, or macro policies, that motivate the abuse of natural resources. Other policy and market failures?
What are the implications, if any, of the natural resource-poverty linkage for designing research initiatives and for measuring their impacts? Can promising case studies be provided of such research initiatives, especially in the areas of the collective management of resources, or strengthening social capital? Is institutional development needed to address rural poverty in more sustainable, integrated, and environmentally sound ways?
4. Recommending institutional architectures for increased poverty impacts:
"Promoting institutional models that can increase researchs role on poverty alleviation"
Which types of agricultural research will be able to incorporate with greatest ease poverty targeting (the supply side of the research-poverty question)? Which types of agricultural research are projected as priorities for the future by CGIAR, regional, and national centers? What does this say about what agricultural research is likely to have in store for the poor in the future, given existing institutional arrangements? What methodologies will be relevant in the future?
Impact and priority setting
What new approaches will be needed to assess the impact of research on the poor? What are the implications for the setting of research priorities? Are there new sources of financing for research emerging to support efforts to strengthen the linkage between research and poverty? What of the supply and quality of data and information to help track and monitor the research-poverty linkage? Will additional data have to be collected? Which indicators of poverty might be most effective for purposes of monitoring and evaluating progress through time? How can the evaluation and monitoring work be most appropriately matched to the design of agricultural research through the choice of indicators?
Anticipating an expanding role by the private sector in research, are mechanisms and institutions in place to facilitate private-public partnerships in agricultural research? Are local institutions in place to ensure a sufficient supply of national talent to support high quality research undertakings? What new institutional models might be promoted to foster greater impact of research findings on the poor? Are new forms of partnership needed? How well have existing institutional arrangements performed?