A review of monitoring initiatives in agriculture

A review of monitoring initiatives in agriculture

25 March 2013. A new review examines 20 years of monitoring initiatives in sustainable agriculture. It provides insights and tools to help stakeholders prioritise investments and manage competing development goals.

A new report (2013, 94 pages) has just been released on the Review of the Evidence on Indicators, Metrics and Monitoring Systems. Led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) under the auspices of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystem (WLE), the review examined monitoring initiatives related to the sustainable intensification of agriculture. Designed to inform future DFID research investments, the review assessed both biophysical and socioeconomic related monitoring efforts.

With the aim of generating insights to improve such systems, the report focuses upon key questions facing stakeholders today:

  • How to evaluate alternative research and development strategies in terms of their potential impact on productivity, environmental services and welfare goals, including trade-offs among these goals?
  • How to cost-effectively measure and monitor actual effectiveness of interventions and general progress towards achieving sustainable development objectives?

The first step in the review process was to identify key initiatives in data monitoring systems relating to agriculture, paying particular attention to those that also acknowledge the impact on ecosystem health, and/or poverty and well-being. A total of 103 monitoring initiatives were identified.

The second step was to review the identified initiatives with respect to their degree of achievement in meeting a set of 34 criteria that had been established from a general literature review. All initiatives were evaluated with respect to their conceptual framework and a subset of 24 initiatives was screened against the full set of criteria. Based on this information a gap-analysis of the systems, indicators and metrics was conducted identifying strengths and weaknesses in methodology and use. Experience with monitoring in other fields, including public health surveillance, systems thinking in industry and public services, and decision sciences was also reviewed. Insights, lessons and recommendations were then drawn.

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