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Theme 5: Technology Evaluations, Targeting and Policy Options for Enhanced Impact

Overview

Rationale and objective

Rice research is largely the remit of the public sector of the developing world. Therefore, governments have to be at the forefront of any concerted effort to improve the rice sector in their countries, to create the enabling environment and resources for the many public and private stakeholders to carry out the required research, development, and extension. However, in many rice-producing countries, the fragmented nature of the rice sector—production, processing, and marketing systems—has resulted in a dearth of effective policies to improve and make more equitable the functioning of the sector. Rice is, in general, a highly regulated crop and very much affected by policies related to inputs and outputs. Developing countries in particular have had large welfare losses caused by inappropriate policies. For example, during the 2008 rice price crisis, major exporting countries, such as India and Vietnam, imposed export restrictions to protect domestic consumers, but the effect was to further raise world market prices, already high as the world market shrank.
In no small part, such inappropriate policies and measures to implement them are due to the lack of good-quality information at high spatial and temporal resolution on farmers’ technology needs, rice ecosystems, yields, input use, rice markets, and prices. Accurate and timely information on the global rice situation can have a strong impact on rice market prices and influence policies. Indeed, better and more easily available information can help to fine-tune national and regional rice development strategies and guide priority setting for public- and private-sector investments. Further, it can lead to harmonization of policies at the regional level. 
Policymakers, donors, research managers, and others also need more accurate evidence-based information on specific constraints and research needs and the impact of research and development investments to date, so as to generate political support and target continued investment in rice research. In addition, in the absence of market feedback, publicly funded rice research requires systematic analysis of expected impacts on the poor to target future investments, and establish metrics for monitoring and evaluation. This theme seeks to redress the situation described above through a much-expanded effort to provide the necessary information using new technologies.

Research approach

Knowledge and information related to the technology needs of poor farmers (both male and female) and the identification of institutional and policy options for rapid adoption and diffusion of improved technologies will be generated by conducting farm-level studies at various locations. This involves collection and analyses of cross-sectional and panel data on household and farm characteristics, the resource base of households, labor use, income levels, farmers’ perceptions on technology needs, technology adoption patterns and constraints, and farm-level effects of technologies on representative households. Such micro-level data will be further disaggregated by gender to identify the varying gender roles in rice farming and assess the consequences of technologies for women farmers. The data generated will be geo-referenced and will be analyzed through various qualitative and quantitative tools to derive the required feedback for researchers, research managers, and policymakers. 
A comprehensive rice information gateway will be created that synthesizes and makes available rice knowledge worldwide and provides accurate science-based information to policymakers, donors, scientists, agricultural professionals, farmers, and the general public. The information gateway will also include general information on all aspects of rice production; policies; statistics; studies and projects; global market information, such as on seed, fertilizer, and equipment; best management practices; and even prominent persons in the sector. 
The data will feed into new predictive tools to identify what research opportunities offer the greatest expected benefits to the poor and the environment. On-the-ground economic, environmental, and social impacts of technology adoption will be assessed when research products are near their peak level of adoption, while more immediate feedback to scientists will be provided through qualitative evaluation approaches focused on early adoption. 

R&D product lines and outputs

    5.1  Socioeconomic and gender analyses for technology evaluation
    5.2  Spatial analysis for effective technology targeting
    5.3  A global rice information gateway
    5.4  Strategic foresight, priority setting, and impact assessment for rice research
Theme 5 provides critical feedback to all other GRiSP themes, allowing them to develop well-targeted, demand-driven products and delivery approaches toward technologies, management systems, and information that farmers and other users really need. Policymakers and research managers will use household-level and spatial information to guide technology development, rural-investment portfolios, and policies. An increased understanding of livelihood strategies will help the intended users develop and implement research projects and agricultural policies that will increase the likelihood of achieving their development goals. The main product, the information gateway, will provide critically needed detailed information and expertise for broader policy research. Some information will be used for advocacy purposes toward better rice-sector policies; other information will provide the basis for gender-responsive agricultural policies. 

Innovative contributions

The much-improved household-level data, agroecological information, and information gateway will provide unprecedented availability of information on all aspects of the rice sector worldwide. This will allow many previously impossible analyses to be made, from local to global scales. Real-time crop monitoring and forecasting will become possible.
The CGIAR has a mixed record of priority-setting performance to date, and has rarely employed systematic forward-looking impact analysis to inform resource allocation. Thus, dedicated attention to this area and the methodologies developed in GRiSP will be a substantial innovation, not only in terms of analytical methods but also in terms of institutional culture.

Partnerships

Work in theme 5 will involve numerous partners and policymakers in the target countries of GRiSP, but also scientists working in other GRiSP themes. GRiSP work at the country level will be implemented through and by NARES partner institutes. Annual GRiSP regional and national work plans will be developed jointly by CGIAR, ARI, and NARES researchers. NARES researchers will be given responsibility at the national level for all the studies in their respective countries, including data collection and analysis, report writing and publications, and dissemination of results in national scientific and policy forums. CGIAR and ARI researchers will backstop their NARES collaborators and, whenever necessary, provide them with training in the use of data management and analysis tools needed to implement the agreed-upon work plans. In addition, CGIAR and ARI researchers will be responsible for harmonizing research methods and tools across countries, conducting regional and global aggregated and cross-country analyses and syntheses, and publishing with NARES results in policy briefs and international journals.
       The training provided to NARES researchers will be through targeted short-term group training workshops, visiting scientist schemes at CGIAR and advanced research institutes, and degree training at local universities or abroad and in relation to GRISP projects. CGIAR and ARI researchers will also mentor NARES junior researchers to help them grow professionally through training and co-publication. Collaboration with ARIs and service providers will be required for the spatial characterization and global information gateway work. The information gateway work will be conducted in conjunction with public and private organizations, including IFPRI; regional and national policy institutions; United Nations organizations (FAO, United Nations Development Programme, World Food Programme); regional rice development organizations—such as the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) and FLAR—and major regional political organizations such as ASEAN, South Asian Regional Cooperation (SARC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC), and East African Community (EAC); and farmer organizations such as the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA) and the Eastern Africa Farmers’ Federation (EAFF). The information generated in this theme will also feed into CGIAR TA 2 (Policy).  

Impact pathways

Research priority setting and targeting derived from the gateway are intended to be used by GRiSP research managers and partners to help focus research portfolios on areas that offer the greatest impact potential, thereby improving long-term flows of benefits to the poor and the environment from research investments. In addition, this evidence should help to bring other supporting actors in local research and extension systems into alignment with global and regional priority areas, thus creating further synergies that improve impacts for target beneficiaries. Adoption studies play a similar role, and help to offer feedback to improve the focus of research and dissemination efforts by actors in the global rice research system.
    Ex post impact assessment has three sets of target users: (i) those conducting priority-setting exercises, so as to improve the prediction of adoption and impact trends; (ii) donors, who often require evidence of impact so as to sustain and improve research funding flows; and (iii) analysts concerned with development issues, to better understand the relative efficacy of alternative development investments. With better ex post impact assessment results, each of these intermediate audiences can help to foster more effective development investment policies on the part of implementing and donor agencies.
    Real-time data on the rice market and instruments to contain rice price volatility can help national policymakers to forecast and mitigate problems in the sector effectively. In particular, costly policies with high deadweight losses, such as expensive government procurements or export bans, are often unnecessary and costly, and can be avoided without detriment to national food security. Moreover, these responses can come with real harm to the poor—for example, inappropriate rice market responses contributed significantly to the global rice price spike in 2008. This research will help to avoid this pattern in the future by engaging rice traders and government agencies to advocate more appropriate market responses to GRiSP forecasts.