Outcome of the online consultation of USAID, Aligning Research Investments to the Global Food Security Strategy

Outcome of the online consultation of USAID, Aligning Research Investments to the Global Food Security Strategy

18-20 April 2017. Aligning Research Investments to the Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS): A Three-Day AgExchange on Nutrition, Resilience and Agriculture-Led Economic Growth

Over 400 development and research professionals in more than 30 countries followed and/or contributed to the discussion on research investments in resilience, nutrition, and agriculture-led economic growth. A team of experts is currently carefully reviewing each and every comment to inform the drafting of the GFSS research strategy.

For key takeaways and reflections from BIFAD and USAID, it is recommend that you check out the recording of the closing webinar (a transcript is also available). In addition, all of the discussion threads and related resources are archived on Agrilinks.

Extracts: Transcripts of Closing Webinar (29 pages)
Gates Foundation’s Ag Development Leader

I really did not hear discussion on what we could call the traditional ag productivity research agenda, how we protect past productivity gains, the changes we need to make in research on genetic gains going forward, and that surprised me a lot.

We need more research to increase the efficiency and the impact of that traditional productivity agenda. And so things like yes, segmentation, contextualization and much better targeting. Who are we actually trying to improve productivity for? What do they need? What do they want? So we can get sharper in terms of our methodology development and our product development in the uptake.

More work on economics. There were some important commentaries in the context of scaling up and scaling out. We need economic analyses so that we can really understand the cost effectiveness of different alternative products and actions across the portfolio. More market research, more agenda research. So there was a real strong call for research that is enabling beyond that traditional productivity agenda.

The real discussion that just kept coming back and back to me is what I would probably call our collective struggle with compartmentalization. So the compartmentalization between social and natural sciences, although people did point out that’s getting better. Between ag and health sciences and professionals. Between the public and private sector across the interface of research and scaling and utilization and analogy just pointed out, too, research and development. So a real call, in a sense, that we shift much more intentionally from compartmentalization to integration and convergence.

The other shift that I heard people calling for was a shift in how we frame our research agendas, specifically the need to look from much more from the demand side instead of our historical focus on production and supply-side research. And those calls manifested, for example, in suggestions from much more of a market-driven approach and for a move from our historic commodity-framed research agenda to more of a consumer demand set of research agendas. (Pamela Anderson : page 16-17)

Prioritization of investment is critical to ensure resources are focused on the most important areas of research. As we examine the range of research opportunities to contribute to the goals of the GlobalFood Security Strategy (GFSS), USAID is looking into criteria to inform our investments.

Background: The 2011 Research Strategy for Feed the Future emerged from an extensive analysis of the geographic distribution of child undernutrition and poverty, and farming systems in these areas. Through consultations with multiple stakeholders and literature reviews, we identified biophysical, social, and policy constraints in major agroecosystems that research could address to advance the goals of inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth and nutrition. We used the following key criteria to guide the selection of research priorities:

  • Potential impact (such as value of production, numbers of consumers and producers, income gains, nutrition gains), scalability, and spillover across wide areas 
  • Relevance to poverty, women and children and reduced vulnerability objectives 
  • Likelihood of success: Technical merit, clear pathways for deployment/adoption 
  • Cost/Benefit: Estimated cost to develop technology vs. potential returns in terms of impacts 
  • Economic sustainability for producers/adopters 
  • Natural resources sustainability: water, soil, ecosystem and climate change 
  • Institutional sustainability/impact on capacity: engagement of national and regional partners 
  • Time Frame: timeline, milestones 
  • Risks: potential impacts on vulnerable groups, environment or breakdown in key pathways 

From this overlay of criteria, constraints and research opportunities together, three general categories of priorities emerged: Advancing the Productivity Frontier, Transforming Key Production Systems, and Enhancing Nutrition and Food Safety.

USAID and its partners intend to use your contributions to this AgExchange to inform research programming. This is a critical opportunity to shape the future of food security research.

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