Agricultural and Rural Development Notes

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This series on commodity risk management aims to disseminate the results of World Bank research that describes the feasibility of developing countries’ ability to utilize market-based tools to mitigate risks associated with commodity price volatility and weather.

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    Improving Nutrition through Multisectoral Approaches
    (Washington, DC, 2013-01) World Bank
    Nutrition sensitive agriculture aims to maximize the impact of nutrition outcomes for the poor, while minimizing the unintended negative nutritional consequences of agricultural interventions and policies on the poor, especially women and young children. It is agriculture with a nutrition lens, and should not detract from the sector's own goals. The agriculture sector is best placed to influence food production and the consumption of nutritious foods necessary for healthy and active lives. Agricultural productivity, focused primarily on staple grains, does not necessarily reduce under nutrition. Policies that strongly favor staple grains over other crops or foods may skew the balance from nutritious foods.
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    Agricultural Innovation Funds
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2011-05) Rajalahti, Riikka ; Larson, Gunnar
    In order for agricultural development to fulfill its potential role as a source of growth and reducer of poverty, it must be constantly renewed through knowledge and innovation. Getting resources into the hands of innovators and providing incentives for producers, agricultural service providers, and entrepreneurs to collaborate in developing and applying new methods and technologies is a priority among institutions concerned with agricultural knowledge. While grants have long been used to finance agricultural innovation, in many countries there has been a shift away from block grant funding and towards the use of innovation funds. These are used to provide incentives and resources for investment and collaboration between innovators, producer groups, private entrepreneurs, and public institutions. Innovation funds allocate grants to targeted applicants based on a system for evaluating the eligibility, relevance, and quality of applicants' proposals.
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    Gender and Governance in Agricultural Extension Services : Insights from India, Ghana, and Ethiopia
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2010-03) Madhvani, Sonia ; Pehu, Eija
    The gender and governance in rural services insights from India, Ghana, and Ethiopia report aims to generate policy-relevant knowledge on strategies for improving agricultural service delivery, with a focus on providing more equitable access to these services, especially for women. The project has been implemented in India, Ghana, and Ethiopia. These countries were chosen to capture variation in important macro-factors, especially the level of economic development; various aspects of governance, such as political system and party system; the role of women in society; and strategies adopted to promote gender equity. The project focused on agricultural extension as an example of a critical agricultural service. In India, the main problem is the lack of overall capacity resulting from a past policy of not hiring agricultural extension providers. The study indicates that access to agricultural extension is low in Ghana, despite the fact that an extension agent-to-farmer ratio is comparatively high. Agricultural extension is a high for the Ethiopia government priority, but coverage of extension services across regions varies widely, and extension agents have limited discretion to adapt technology packages to the context of individual communities. The gender gap in access to extension can also be improved.
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    Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant : Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-06) Morris, Michael ; Larson, Gunnar
    Stimulating agricultural growth is critical to reducing poverty in Africa. Commercial agriculture, potentially a powerful driver of agricultural growth, can develop along a number of pathways. Yet many developing regions have failed to progress very far along any of these pathways. Particularly in Africa, agriculture continues to lag. During the past 30 years the competitiveness of many African export crops has declined, and Africa's dependence on imported food crops has increased. While the poor performance of African agriculture can be attributed partly to adverse agroecological conditions, experience from elsewhere in the developing world suggests that significant progress is possible. The Guinea Savannah covers some 600 million hectares in Africa, of which about 400 million can be used for agriculture. Less than ten percent of this area is currently cropped, making it one of the largest underused agricultural land reserves in the world.
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    Improving Agricultural Productivity and Markets : The Role of Information and Communication Technologies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-04) McNamara, Kerry
    Raising the productivity of smallholders is a necessary condition for increasing incomes and improving livelihoods among the rural poor in most developing countries. This increased productivity is essential to both household food security and to agriculture-based growth and poverty reduction in the larger economy. Smallholder productivity is limited by a variety of constraints including poor soils, unpredictable rainfall, and imperfect markets, as well as lack of access to productive resources, financial services, or infrastructure. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are also vitally important to commercial and large-scale agriculture, and to agriculture-related services and infrastructure such as weather monitoring and irrigation. This note focuses on the sometimes less-obvious importance of ICT in improving the information, communication, transaction, and networking elements of smallholder agriculture in developing countries.
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    Tracking Results in Agriculture and Rural Development in Less-Than-Ideal Conditions : A Sourcebook of Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluation
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-03) Larson, Gunnar
    The demand for verifiable evidence of results and impacts of development agricultural programs and projects is growing. However, most of the indicators that development practitioners have traditionally used in tracking progress toward achieving projects' objectives focus on the workings of the development operation itself. These performance indicators relate mainly to lower-level inputs and outputs and are used to populate management information systems. Higher-level indicators are used to measure progress in achieving the ultimate objectives of projects, and in bringing about larger outcomes and impacts. The ability to measure and demonstrate outcomes and impacts relies on the use of indicators that are based on reliable data and on the capacity to systematically collect and analyze that information. The conditions in which monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are carried out vary widely, depending on the demand for information, the extent to which it is used to inform decision-making, and the reliability of the systems that are in place to capture and convey that information. Throughout much of the developing world these conditions are "less-than-ideal," and information is irregular and often lacking altogether. In these conditions there is a lack of effective demand for information on the part of policy makers. The conditions are often especially pronounced for data related to rural areas, where the costs of data collection are high and the quality of existing data is particularly low. Building data systems and developing and supporting capacity for M&E in these conditions is, therefore, a pressing imperative for interventions in the agriculture and rural development sector. Strengthening capacity for M&E begins at the national and sub-national levels, where addressing the weaknesses of national statistical systems is a common priority. The data collected and reported within countries must not only be of sufficient quality to inform planning and policy formulation but must also be consistent between countries.
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    From Agriculture to Nutrition : Pathways, Synergies and Outcomes
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2008-07) Hawkes, Corinna ; Ruel, Marie T.
    This note discusses the direct pathways through which agricultural production can contribute to improved nutrition. It then reviews recent changes in the global environment which affect the ways in which agriculture and nutrition are linked. It concludes with a discussion of how nutrition-related objectives can be effectively incorporated into the design of agriculture programs for maximum impact on the poor.
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    Cultivating Knowledge and Skills to Grow African Agriculture
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-12) Agwe, Jonathan
    This Program states that larger investments in agricultural research, extension, and education systems are required to achieve the targeted increase in agricultural output of 6 percent a year over the next 20 years.To enhance the quality and productivity of Agricultural Education and Training (AET) in Africa, the case for improving its agricultural education capacities is compelling in view of their seminal role in agricultural development elsewhere in the world. AET development was an integral part of strategies of countries that grew agriculture successfully, such as Brazil, India, and Malaysia. The analytical work carried out on AET in Africa identified some priorities as key to modernize agricultural education in Africa These priorities are: 1 Political will must be generated in support of agricultural development by educating the public about its role in economic growth and poverty reduction, creating capacities for lobbying, joining forces with other stakeholders, and sustaining these efforts over two or three decades.(2) It is desirable to assess and re-balance AET enrollment profiles away from secondary level vocational training towards diploma, degree, and post-graduate levels (3) It is essential to replenish human capital by strengthening and expanding national Master of Science programs, laying the foundation for Ph.D. programs, and tackling the conundrum of incentives for staff retention.(4) Finances must be managed proactively by making more efficient use of existing resources, mobilizing non-public resources, and persuading donors to finance operating costs.(5) Much better gender balance must be achieved among AET graduates. African universities and other institutions of higher learning ultimately will be responsible for replenishing the stock of human capital in national research and extension services, and for providing them with the broader set of skills necessary to grow agriculture in the 21st century.
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    Scenario Planning to Guide Long-term Investments in Agricultural Science and Technology : Theory and Practice from a Case Study on India
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2007-11) Rajalahti, Riikka ; Janssen, Willem ; Pehu, Eija
    This note for India is based on the paper Scenario Planning to guide long-term investments in Agricultural Science and Technology (report no. 37066). Scenarios are an important and useful tool, providing a neutral space for discussion, and helping to build consensus among various stakeholders. The objective is to examine possible future developments that could impact individuals, organizations, or societies to find directions for decisions will most benefit any future environment. Useful in strategy formulation, scenarios can be used in policy development, conflict resolution, group learning, and rehearsing management decisions. The note analyzed results of workshops organized to define the way forward relative to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). The lessons learned include: (a) applying the analysis on larger, global issues may be far more challenging; (b) it is recommended the scenario process be implemented ahead of project preparation; (c) it is essential to allocate sufficient time and resources for creating client ownership and understanding; (d) it is of paramount importance to compose a multidisciplinary scenario team led by experienced scenario leaders; and (e) it is also very important to include participants of the groups the process aims to influence.
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    Public Research in Plant Breeding and Intellectual Property Rights : A Call for New Institutional Policies
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2006-06) Louwaars, Niels ; Tripp, Rob ; Eaton, Derek
    This paper addresses the issue of using intellectual property rights (IPRs) in public sector breeding, and the potential impact on breeding strategies and on the costs and benefits. The paper is based on a study on the impact of IPRs in the breeding industry in developing countries. There are three main reasons for national agricultural research institutes (NARIs) to embrace IPRs: recognition, technology access and transfer, and revenue. Introducing the concept of revenue generation in public plant breeding is likely to have an impact on the distribution of funds within the NARI and on the breeding strategies applied. A second possible impact is that funds will be distributed more to crops with a high value in seed production. The third level of impact is within breeding programs themselves, where researchers have to choose which ecological areas or client groups to target. The paper concludes with suggestions: Policymakers and research managers need to be aware of potential difficulties of matching revenue generation through IPRs and the public tasks of the NARIs. Explicit national and institutional policies are needed to guide choices regarding the management of IPRs in breeding. Research institutes need to prepare for managing IPRs, whether they intend to protect their own inventions or not. Human and financial resources need to be made available, and the institutional culture needs to be adapted to the new developments.