Expanding livestock production in Asia and Africa key to environmental and human welfare gains

By Susan MacMillan, ILRI —

Published this month in Global Food Security and led by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), this paper confirms a wealth of similar evidence showing that, with sufficient and targeted investments in their livestock sectors, many low- and middle-income countries can achieve both better nutrition and incomes for the poor and greatly reduced greenhouse gas emission and agricultural water use.

Above and below: stone carving bas reliefs from the ruins of ancient Persepolis, capital city of the Persian empire, 5th Century B.C. (Photo Credit: Susan MacMillan, ILRI)

Here’s the abstract to the paper.
‘Growth in demand for livestock-derived foods will likely remain strong in low- and middle- income countries, fueling concerns about expansion of production and the management of natural resources. Recent research suggests that the envisioned negative effects are not inevitable and that benefits such as improved food security can be enhanced. Targeted investments to the livestock sector could help make these happen. We use scenario analysis to explore this question, assessing the impacts of selected investment options in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Our results show that boosting livestock productivity primarily in these two regions could improve food security and producer incomes while limiting greenhouse gas emissions and agricultural water usage. Market-improving investments with similar welfare gains lead to environmental impacts that necessitate complementary investments.’

(Photo Credit: Susan MacMillan, ILRI)

Key to strategic investments in the global livestock sector, the authors say, is to offer opportunities for sustainable expansion of the sector, with improved resource efficiency, secured social equity and strengthened resilience of the underlying production systems are key elements. (For more on that, see, for example, Sustainable Agricultural Development for Food Security and Nutrition: What Roles for Livestock?, A Report by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, Rome, 2016, https://hdl.handle.net/10568/76163.)

This new assessment focuses on South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, ‘two regions with high levels of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition and where there is substantial potential for livestock-sector led rural development.’

(Photo Credit: Susan MacMillan, ILRI)

‘. . . Of the around 766 million poor people (i.e., those living on less than two US dollars per day) that derive direct incomes from livestock, more than 70% live in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa (Robinson et al., 2011), highlighting the importance of the livestock sector as a vehicle for pro-poor economic development in these regions (Staal et al., 2009, Otte et al., 2012). An assessment of poverty reduction strategies for East and Central Africa showed that the greatest effects would come from subsectors including livestock for which the growth in food demand is highest (Omamo et al., 2006).

‘In South Asia, one of the premises for the sector’s potential as an engine for growth is that the current distribution of livestock is more egalitarian than that of other assets, such as land. For example, more than 70% of rural households in India own livestock and a majority of these are small, marginal, or landless (Ali, 2007). In both South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, livestock is also known to make substantial contributions to household nutrition and to the livelihoods of poor women (Herrero et al., 2013a, Kristjanson et al., 2014). . . .

‘According to Herrero et al., 2013a, Herrero et al., 2013b, increasing the efficiency of the livestock sector in lower income countries presents real opportunities for more sustainable sector development in these countries. Key among sector-enhancing strategies is improving the performance of livestock animals. In both South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, technological breakthroughs in animal genetics, animal health, and feed and nutrition are considered necessary to improve livestock productivity, and to enhance resource use efficiencies (Birthal and Taneja, 2012, Cardoso, 2012, Pradère, 2014, HLPE, 2016). Studies such as Omamo et al. (2006) and Birthal and Taneja (2012) further emphasize the importance of improving market efficiencies to reach the pro-poor potential of the livestock sector in these regions. . . .

‘Results suggest that the expansion of regional production in both regions does not need to follow a path of massive increases in farm animal numbers. Research funding targeted to closing livestock yield gaps make it possible for growth in animal herds or flocks to be more conservative, reducing pressures on agricultural water use, and leading to lower GHG emissions, compared to a situation with no such investments. . . .

‘While additional analysis is needed to ascertain potential levels and distributional effects of impacts, what emerges from this and previous research is that direct investments to improve animal productivity, e.g., through technological advancement and context-adaptation of livestock genetics, feeds and animal health solutions, have potential as integral components of development strategies to enhance human welfare and natural resource management. . . .’

                    This article is drawn from the original post on ILRI's website.

                    Full paper can be accessed and downloaded here.


This work received direct funding support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) through the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) Project. Open access was provided by PIM. The authors also acknowledge support to the CGIAR research programs on Livestock Agri-Food Systems (DE, KMR, SS), Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (PT) and Water, Land and Ecosystems (MM), from the CGIAR Fund Donors, France (https://www.cgiar.org/funders/) and through bilateral funding agreements.

Read the new science paper, Supporting sustainable expansion of livestock production in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa: Scenario analysis of investment options, written by Dolapo Enahoro (ILRI), Daniel Mason-D’Croz, Marloes Mul, Karl Rich (ILRI), Tim Robinson, Philip Thornton (ILRI) and Steven Staal (ILRI), Global Food Security, Mar 2019.

Webinar: Climate resilience and job prospects for young people in agriculture

Photo credit: C. Schubert

Climate change matters for all people. Does it matter particularly for young people?  If so, where and how? Join this PIM Webinar on February 7 (Thursday) with Karen Brooks (Georgetown University) and Keith Wiebe (IFPRI) to learn more and discuss!

Countries with a high proportion of young job seekers (for example, those projected in 2030 to have 15% or more of their populations in the age group between 15 and 24 years old) are on average more dependent on agriculture than are countries with more mature population profiles. Regions with many rural young people (South Asia) and rapidly growing numbers (Africa south of the Sahara) are likely to remain reliant on agriculture in the coming decades. Of the projected slightly more than 500 million rural young people globally in 2030, two-thirds will be in Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia. In many African countries farming still employs over half of a rapidly growing labor force, and the absolute number of agricultural workers is still rising. Where agriculture is called upon to deliver job security as well as food security, vulnerability to climate change presents major risk. The risk falls disproportionately on young people because it will affect their job prospects in agri-food systems. How can we envisage the impact of climate change on livelihood opportunities for young people, and what can be done to improve their prospects?

Read more and register>>

Leveraging higher demand for livestock-derived foods to meet nutritional needs of the world’s poor

By Dolapo Enahoro, ILRI —

Ethiopian woman churning butter (Photo Credit: Apollo Habtamu, ILRI)

The livestock sector is a major contributor to global food supply of energy, proteins, essential nutrients and it provides livelihoods to millions of people. In many low and middle-income countries (LMICs) livestock production is also the mainstay of the economy. As such, investment in development of the livestock sector can be a strategy to enhance the availability of, and access to, essential nutrients to the millions of people currently suffering deficiencies, and to promote increased participation of the rural poor in a rapidly growing and still labour-intensive livestock industry.

In many LMICs, segments of the population are moving towards increased consumption of animal products because of factors such as higher incomes, population growth and changes in consumer preferences related to urbanization and globalization. While global livestock production is a major user of natural resources and is often linked, justifiably or not, with negative environmental impacts, the factors driving current dietary changes also present opportunities to increase the consumption of nutrient-dense foods among nutritionally vulnerable groups in poor countries. Increased intake of livestock derived foods (LDF) for example, can provide critical nutritional benefits to children, women of reproductive-age and the elderly. LDFs are also considered key to improving nutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, from conception up to two years.

A recent study on “Contributions of livestock-derived foods to nutrient supply under changing demand in low- and middle-income countries”, by Dolapo Enahoro and colleagues from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, shows that demand for livestock-derived foods will grow substantially to year 2050 in eight countries that are currently facing food security and nutrient supply challenges. An assessment of food demand and supply projections for the global agricultural system shows that the demand growth of LDF will persist in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam under a range of plausible scenarios of global economic growth and climate change. For all eight countries, the analysis shows higher total consumption of LDF in 2050 relative to 2010, reflecting expected growth in income and thus in LDF consumption per person, and expected growth in population.

In addition, household data indicate that ownership of livestock increases LDF intake by children in poor households. These factors suggest strong possibilities for improving the livelihoods and nutrition of the rural poor through livestock sector-based strategies – especially through strategies that increase milk and egg production, since smallholder producers can consume part of what they produce without the need to slaughter or sell a large animal.

However, under current paths of productivity and production, domestic production will not always meet the local demand. The assessment of various scenarios to 2050 suggests that Burkina Faso, Uganda and Tanzania will need to import at least 40% of their supply of livestock-derived protein, revealing an important need for further investments and policy intervention.

Such policy interventions should be broad-based options that will meet multiple objectives for food security, livelihoods, nutrition and sustainability, within the context of rapidly changing demand for livestock products. According to the study, these can take advantage of ongoing large-scale dietary transformations to meet nutritional needs of the world’s poorest populations.

This article is drawn from the original post on ILRI's website.

Full paper can be accessed and downloaded here.

This work was carried out at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and contributes to the CGIAR research programs on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and on Livestock (Livestock CRP). Funding was provided by PIM through the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight (GFSF) project led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) (Contract no. 2015X381.ILR), and by the Livestock CRP (3.7). This study made use of projections of the global food and agricultural system obtained from the IMPACT modeling team at IFPRI, with special thanks to Daniel Mason-D′Croz.

Risk of increased food insecurity under stringent global climate change mitigation policy

By Tim Sulser, IFPRI—

Several IFPRI-based GFSF researchers were pleased to join with other authors from AgMIP (led by Tomoko Hasegawa from the National Institute for Environmental Studies of Japan) to publish an article, "Risk of increased food insecurity under stringent global climate change mitigation policy," in Nature Climate Change.  The article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0230-x.

One of the key findings of the article is that implementation of strict climate mitigation policies can have an even greater effect on food security than climate change itself, at least until mid-century.

There are important additional messages that should not be overshadowed by this finding, however.

  • The emphasis here should be that careful consideration of different policy alternatives and complementary programs will be needed to avoid unintended consequences.
  • Climate change effects are expected to be much more severe later in the century than what we are likely to experience between now and 2050. Mitigation is necessary to reduce the burden of these effects, especially in tropical and lower income countries where they are likely to be the most severe.
  • Thus, many of the benefits of (mindful) climate mitigation actions taken sooner rather than later will likely be stronger in the latter half of this century.

This was a provocative study and it is stimulating a good deal of discussion across news and social media sources (see Altmetric score at this link). Hopefully this active exchange of ideas will help inspire smarter designs for implementation of climate mitigation policies and programs.

How much will it cost to end hunger?

By Tim Sulser —

As part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), world leaders have committed to ending hunger by 2030. Yet despite unprecedented progress made in recent decades, the world is not on track to reach the goal. Current levels of spending to end hunger are inadequate.

Global Futures and Strategic Foresight researchers working with IFPRI’s IMPACT model joined with other IFPRI colleagues to produce a joint issue brief examining the different assessments of the cost of ending hunger and undernutrition in the world by 2030.  Estimates range from US$7 billion to US$265 billion of increased investments necessary per year.  The different estimates arise from the varied target objectives of each approach, different investment strategies considered, and the diversity in modeling frameworks.  Each approach has its strengths and caveats.

This peer-reviewed publication is available at https://doi.org/10.2499/9780896292994.

Shenggen Fan, IFPRI's Director General, has also posted a short synopsis on the IFPRI blog.

CGIAR centres and research programmes combine forces to reduce the damage of banana disease in Uganda

By Bioversity International/RTB —

(Photo Credit: A.Vezina, Bioversity)

Bananas and plantains (Musa spp.) provide a major source of food and income for over 30 million people in Eastern and Central Africa (ECA). Uganda produces an estimated 10 million tonnes annually valued at about US$550 million. Most ECA bananas are domestically consumed with the highest global per capita consumption of over 200 kg. Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), a bacterial disease, emerged in Uganda in 2001 and has since proved to have a devastating effect on banana production, with up to 100% loss if no management practices are adopted. To control the disease, farmers can adopt a package of practices, including single diseased stem removal and cleaning of tools to prevent contamination. Alternatively, resistant cultivars are under development. Several policy interventions are thus available but it is not clear which will have the greatest impact on curbing the spread of BXW while minimizing the costs.

Bioversity International, under the umbrella of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas, organized a workshop in Kampala, Uganda, 1–2 February 2018, to understand better the socio-economic impact of BXW spread and quantify the role of policy interventions. The goals of the workshop were to:

  1. Finalize and validate the conceptual framework describing relationships between different elements of BXW spread and its socio-economic consequences, linking different scales – from farm to country levels
  2. Finalize and validate research questions of the study
  3. Identify what data, methods and models are available and what resources are needed to fill in the missing elements
  4. Generate a framework for linking the models
  5. Formulate scenarios for simulation modeling, which would represent possible alternative future (until 2050) developments to inform policymakers
  6. Roadmap tasks and deliverables

The research will answer the question: What will be the socio-economic impact of BXW spread in Uganda until 2050 if there are no policy interventions, and under different interventions?

This highly complex question requires an integrated modelling approach which can be modelled to see the impact of different interventions on banana production, producers’ revenue, market prices, consumption and nutrition, and link them to costs for different actors, starting from the government and ending with farmers. To address such different areas of focus and implications at multiple scales, from the farm to (inter)national level, the research brings together a highly multidisciplinary team hailing from different CGIAR research centres, different disciplines (agronomists, economists, plant pathologists, mathematicians), different CGIAR research programmes (CRP), different flagships within the roots, tubers and bananas (RTB) CRP, together with representatives of Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda.

This innovative research links various models in order to understand the economic impact of pest and disease spread. We start with the dynamic global partial equilibrium model – IMPACT, developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM). This is an economic simulation model for analysis of long-term agricultural markets and food security. A crop disease mapping model based on statistical analysis of survey data will be combined with a mathematical model for disease spread dynamics, in order to inform the IMPACT model about the dynamics of BXW spread and its consequences for yield loss. Additionally, we will systematically assess costs borne by different actors in the food system.

By combining expertise from RTB research clusters on resilient crops, banana bacterial wilt, improved livelihoods at scale, foresight and impact assessment, and sustainable intensification/ diversification, and linking those with the IMPACT model, we have the potential to make innovative breakthroughs that can truly make a difference in the management of the devastating BXW disease and defend Uganda’s economic base and food security.

Read the original article and learn more about Banana Xanthomonas Wilt on the Bioversity International website. 

This research is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas and is supported by CGIAR Funders. Additional support, for the IMPACT modelling part was provided by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) through the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight project.

IFPRI contributions to AgMIP-Phase II

By Daniel Mason D'Croz, IFPRI

The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) has been and continues to be an important forum for agricultural modelers to come together and compare their modeling efforts, with the objective to improve our understanding of the uncertainties facing agriculture, and to leverage modeling tools to better inform policymakers. IFPRI has been an integral collaborator in these efforts from the beginning both on the crop modelling side, through contributions to global gridded crop modeling by Ricky Robertson, as well as on the economic side, through contributions from the IMPACT team.

In the current phase of AgMIP (Phase II), IFPRI is playing a key role helping to link the various components of the Coordinated Global and Regional Assessments (CGRA, figure below) in efforts to simulate +1.5 and 2.0 °C futures for an upcoming IPCC special report and related journal articles. Daniel Mason-D’Croz has been the primary link between the Global Gridded Crop Modelling (GGCM) and the Global Economics, as well as between the Global Economics and Regional Economic analyses. In these efforts Daniel, has translated GGCM results for use by Global Economic modeling teams, and has downscaled Global Economic modelling results for Regional Economic analysis at the sub-national level in Senegal and Pakistan.

Figure 1 Components of Coordinated Global and Regional Assessments

In efforts to contribute to a future IPCC special report on Land-use Change, Daniel has designed, analyzed, and shared IMPACT scenario results of more fully quantified socioeconomic and mitigation scenarios.

In support of work towards both IPCC special reports (1.5 °C and Land-use Change), Daniel and Keith Wiebe represented IFPRI in organizational meetings in Washington, DC in March 2017. These organizational meetings helped define the scenarios that would be used to simulate the 1.5 and 2.0 °C futures. Additionally, Daniel attended the CGRA +1.5 and 2°C Workshop in Vienna, Austria which took place in July 2017 (for more details on this workshop see AgMIP’s blogpost and Workshop report), where he presented IMPACT results from the most recent GGCM climate results. Daniel then participated in follow-up global economic meetings to discuss the involvement of other Global Economic modelling teams in the 1.5 and 2.0 °C efforts, as well as refining the scenarios that will contribute to efforts towards the Land-use Change report.

AgMIP Phase II continues the practice of ambitious coordinated modelling, with high-level analysis seen in Phase I. In AgMIP Phase I, with contributions from IFPRI’s Jerry Nelson, Sherman Robinson, Ricky Robertson, and Daniel Mason-D’Croz, seven articles were published in 2014, with one article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and six articles in Agricultural Economics. These papers have quickly attracted significant attention and are among the most highly cited articles (top 1%) in their academic fields, according to the Web of Knowledge and Altmetric. The von Lampe et al. (2014) overview paper has received further recognition this year, being awarded a Citation of Excellence by Emerald Publishing in the areas of Business Management, Finance, Accounting, Economics, and Marketing.

Between Phase I and Phase II, IFPRI co-led efforts by AgMIP’s Global Economic modeling team to build on the work of Phase I, expanding the range of climate and socioeconomics scenarios considered. This work led to a journal article published in 2015 in the journal Environmental Research Letters led by IFPRI’s Keith Wiebe. IFPRI also participated in a parallel multi-model scenario exercise led by the OECD that led to an OECD Report on Alternative Futures for Global Food and Agriculture.

Articles Citations Altmetric Score
Nelson et al. (2014). “Climate change effects on agriculture: Economic responses to biophysical shocks”. PNAS, 111(9): 3274-3279. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222465110 103*** 75**
Mueller and Robertson (2014) “Projecting future crop productivity for global economic modelling”. Agricultural Economics, 45: 37-50. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12088 44*** 30**
Nelson et al. (2014). “Agriculture and climate change in global scenarios: why don't the models agree?” Agricultural Economics, 45: 85–101. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12091 53*** 14*
Robinson et al. (2014) “Comparing supply-side specifications in models of global agriculture and the food system”. Agricultural Economics, 45: 21–35. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12087 24 1
Schmitz et al. (2014). “Land-use change trajectories up to 2050: insights from a global agro-economic model comparison”. Agricultural Economics, 45: 69–84. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12090 60*** 29**
Valin et al. (2014). “The future of food demand: understanding differences in global economic models”. Agricultural Economics, 45: 51–67. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12089 48*** 43**
von Lampe et al. (2014), “Why do global long-term scenarios for agriculture differ? An overview of the AgMIP Global Economic Model Intercomparison”. Agricultural Economics, 45: 3–20. DOI: 10.1111/agec.12086 56*** 12*
Wiebe et al. (2015) “Climate change impacts on agriculture in 2050 under a range of plausible socioeconomic and emissions scenarios”. Environmental Research Letters, 10(8). DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/10/8/085010 25 24**


***        Denotes top 1 percent in field of study
**           Denotes top 5 percent in field of study
*             Denotes top 25 percent in field of study

IFPRI’s contributions to AgMIP activities have been supported by funding from AgMIP, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the US Department of Agriculture.


Prospects for wheat self-sufficiency in sub-Saharan Africa based on adoption of improved management practices and wheat area expansion

By Aymen Frija, ICARDA —

In the framework of the R&D SARD-SC project funded by the AfDB, and as part of the Global Futures & Strategic Foresight program, the ICARDA foresight team recently used the IMPACT model used to assess the effect of the adoption of improved wheat management and areas expansion (AE) on the aggregated performances of wheat sectors in selected Sub-Saharan African countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria) under different climate change (CC) scenarios. Results were presented at the International SARD-SC wheat conference in Abuja, Nigeria on 27th February to 2nd March 2017.

Photo credit: SARD-SC project. (on farm trials of improved wheat varieties in Nigeria)

While the demand for wheat in SSA depends on many economic and income growth variables, the supply of the commodity will mostly depend on closing the yield gaps and expanding current areas devoted for wheat production. In the 1960s, average cereal yields in Africa were about 57% of the world average (FAO data). This gap was widening until the 1990s with an average value of 42%, and stabilized at that level since then. On the other side it is estimated that a potential area of 200 million hectares could be converted to rain fed agriculture in SSA, of which 95 million hectares could be accessible without major investments in infrastructure. This area is roughly estimated as being 45% of the total area in the world suitable for wheat expansion. Expansion of wheat areas is possible through two approaches: 1) further expansion of agricultural land through conversion of suitable rangelands and forest areas; and 2) through the adoption of improved heat tolerant wheat varieties that can be suitable for cultivation under new agro-ecological areas in SSA. Ethiopia, Sudan, and Nigeria, were considered for investigating the scope and impact of these options on reaching wheat self-sufficiency.

Specifically, the simulated scenarios combine options of CC to technology change (TC) and area expansion (AC). TC scenarios assume a logistic adoption function of improved wheat technology until reaching 50% of the total wheat area in respective countries by 2025. AC scenarios also assume gradual expansion of wheat areas to a certain extent (different from one country to another) until 2025.

Results show an important potential for increasing wheat production and decreasing imports in the three considered countries. Particularly, Ethiopia and Sudan have the possibility to fully cover their domestic consumption through local production and stop importing wheat, under some of the simulated scenarios. Ethiopia could stop importing wheat by 2019 (4 years after the reference year 2016) under a first scenario suggesting a combination of 1843 thousand ha of total wheat area, and an average yield of 2.55 tons/ha, which could be achieved by adopting enhanced wheat management practices and improved varieties on 17% of the total wheat areas.  Ethiopia could also reach self-sufficiency of wheat by 2025 by combining an average yield of 2.33 tons/ha, which is the yield which might be obtained under the Business as Usual scenario (0% adoption rate), and a total cultivated area of 2282 thousand hectares.

For the case of Sudan, self-sufficiency of wheat would only be possible by 2023 (8 years after the reference year of our scenarios: 2016) under the optimistic scenario combining “CC, TC, and AC”. This scenario suggests an increase of wheat area in Sudan up to 573 thousand hectares, combined to an average yield of 3.8 tons/ha, which might be obtained by adopting improved wheat management practices on 43% of the wheat area.

For Nigeria, none of the simulated scenarios would allow reaching wheat self-sufficiency. This is mainly due to the high domestic demand of wheat in this country (which in turn depends on the high population) as well as the limited wheat area in the country, even when we assume large expansion. However, Nigeria could cut its wheat imports by 50% if it widely increases wheat area up to 890 thousand hectares and adopts improved wheat management practices on 50% of these areas.

Another important finding of this study can be drawn from the case of Ethiopia, which shows that area expansion of agricultural commodities does not necessarily involve large public investments but can be achieved through appropriate price instruments backed by effective market institutions, especially in relation to improved seeds marketing. In fact, many high yielding, drought and heat tolerant wheat varieties have been generated by the SARD-SC project during the last 5 years and were proven to have a good impact on productivity increase in the selected countries. However, making such varieties available at a larger scale for farmers remains a real challenge. By improving wheat productivity, and guaranteeing wheat prices, the area elasticity to yield will certainly lead to higher cultivated wheat areas in many SSA countries, which will in turn result in lower importations.

More details on this study will be available soon in a paper that is being prepared for publication in 2018.

IMPACT Training at The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS)

By Daniel Mason-D'Croz and Shahnila Dunston, IFPRI—

In collaboration with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presented a 5-day short-course on scenario analysis and economic modeling with IFPRI’s International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT). The course was hosted by CAAS in Beijing, China from 18-22 September 2017. The course was organized with the objective to introduce IMPACT to 12 participants invited by CAAS, and to help them determine how IMPACT might be used to contribute to their current research on Sino-African technology transfers, as well as potential China-specific country analysis.


The course was led by Daniel Mason-D’Croz and Shahnila Dunston of IFPRI’s IMPACT team. They presented materials on a variety of scenario design methodologies, an introduction to how to use IMPACT, as well as the underlying economic theory behind IMPACT. The course was organized to be interactive, and walked participants through practical exercises of how IFPRI uses IMPACT to conduct ex-ante analysis.

Developing Factors of Change

The course provided a valuable opportunity to network with China experts, and to hopefully will serve as the basis of future collaboration and knowledge exchange between CAAS and IFPRI. Keith Wiebe of IFPRI also joined Daniel and Shahnila to meet with CAAS officials regarding possible next steps for collaboration.

MINK: Process-based crop modeling for global food security

By Richard Robertson, IFPRI —

Over the last decade, computer models of crop growth have increasingly been used to understand how climate change may affect the world's capacity to produce food. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has undertaken a major sustained effort to analyze changes in the productivity of major crops across the entire world. The results are integrated into economic modeling efforts ranging from household to country-level economy-wide models to the global agricultural sector partial-equilibrium economic model known as IMPACT. With the models working together, researchers can examine how biophysical changes in crop growth interact with changes in social and economic conditions.

Now, for the first time, IFPRI is releasing a comprehensive volume describing the global-scale crop modeling system behind IMPACT known as “Mink” for short. Download here.

Mink generates yield maps for the entire world that can be compared to identify locations most likely to be affected by climate change.

Crop modeling starts at the field level and scaling this up to the global level is challenging. Climate data must be collated, processed, and formatted. Representative crop varieties and planting calendars have to be chosen. Fertilizer input levels need to be specified. Myriad other assumptions need to be considered and appropriate values and strategies determined. And that is just the preparation phase. All the data then have to be organized, exported, and run through the crop models to obtain simulated yields under different climate scenarios and production environments. This necessitates employing parallel computing to get the job done quickly enough to be useful. And then the reams of output data must be organized, manipulated, analyzed, and finally interpreted to provide context as well as specific information so policymakers can plan appropriately for the future.

Collaborators from across the CGIAR and universities in India gather at ICRISAT to learn how to use Mink in support of their own research.

Naturally, with so much going on, the process can be mysterious for those looking in from the outside and potentially confusing even for those on the inside.

The document addresses how Mink works at several different levels. There is the broad discussion of interest to policymakers and managers concerning how global-scale crop modeling can be used, its strengths and weaknesses, how to think about the issues, and where it sits in the wider context of agricultural and policy research. At a middle level, every step of the process is described for those who wish to understand how it works so they can use the results properly, but not necessarily generate the numbers themselves. Along the way, though, various tips, tricks, and lessons learned are revealed for those who do, in fact, wish to replicate this kind of work on their own. And finally, for collaborators and researchers who wish to use Mink themselves, there is the nitty-gritty, nuts-and-bolts level documentation and tutorial aspects that literally say "Change this number; click here and drag there."

Mink has been used to provide insight for numerous reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, and the popular press, some examples being:

National Geographic. Climate Change: 5 Ways It Will Affect You: Crops. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/climate-change/how-to-live-with-it/crops.html

Rosegrant et al. 2017. Quantitative foresight modeling to inform the CGIAR research portfolio. http://ebrary.ifpri.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15738coll2/id/131144

Islam et al. 2016. Structural approaches to modeling the impact of climate change and adaptation technologies on crop yields and food security. Global Food Security 10: 63-70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gfs.2016.08.003

Wiebe et al. 2015. Climate change impacts on agriculture in 2050 under a range of plausible socioeconomic and emissions scenarios. Environmental Research Letters 10: 085010. http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/10/8/085010

Müller and Robertson. 2014. Projecting future crop productivity for global economic modeling. Agricultural Economics 45: 37-50. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/agec.12088

Rosegrant et al. 2014. Food security in a world of natural resource scarcity: The role of agricultural technologies. http://dx.doi.org/10.2499/9780896298477

We hope this volume will be a valuable resource for global modelers running simulations, their collaborators making use of the results, and ultimately for policymakers trying to determine appropriate courses of action in a changing world.

Major and ongoing support for this work has been provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) through the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight Project.