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Institution: World Bank
Jock R. Anderson studied agricultural science at the University of Queensland and economics later in the 1960s at the University of New England, Armidale, where he stayed on as a staff member (as Professor of Agricultural Economics) until 1989, with teaching responsibilities in applied economics, including risk and decision analysis. He joined the World Bank in what is now the Rural Development Department, where after focusing on agricultural research policy and operations evaluation, he now serves as Portfolio Adviser. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, and of the American Agricultural Economics Association.
Title: "Poverty, land degradation, and rural research policy"
Poverty and land degradation are surely interrelated but to go beyond such glib generalities proves to be challenging, given the limited understanding of the relationships. Measurement, statistical and causality problems reduce the confidence that can be attached to extrapolations. Evidence from the few available micro-level studies is mixed. The pressures that might induce people to degrade the land include those related to: increases in population; declines in common property resources; interest rate changes; and technology transfers. There is, moreover, considerable evidence that the response to population pressures and market forces is an endogenous process of adaptation towards sustainable behavior. Notwithstanding the inherent data and other difficulties, the following syllogism of relevance to work in the CGIAR (CG) is explored: "The CG is concerned with poverty; the poor are located in marginal lands; therefore the CG investment in agricultural research should be focused in marginal areas in order to reduce poverty". In fact, research in a variety of settings over a reasonable length of time is needed for cogent research policy analysis to be based on deepened understanding of household decision-making processes, especially in terms of the links to land. Suggestions for such needed research are offered.