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.

Global Futures & Strategic Foresight Extended Team Meeting at IRRI, 15-19 May 2017

By Keith Wiebe — 

IRRI recently hosted the Global Futures & Strategic Foresight (GFSF) Extended Team Meeting and Writeshop from May 15-19, 2017. GFSF is a CGIAR initiative to explore long-term trends, challenges, and policy options for food and agriculture through multidisciplinary foresight analysis. GFSF is led by IFPRI in collaboration with AfricaRice, Bioversity, CIAT, CIFOR, CIMMYT, CIP, ICARDA, ICRAF, ICRISAT, IITA, ILRI, IRRI, IWMI, and WorldFish. The meeting was led by Keith Wiebe (IFPRI) and Steve Prager (CIAT), with participants from across the CGIAR.

The week-long meeting and writeshop focused on the preparation of a series of papers for an upcoming special issue of the journal Global Food Security. The papers draw on recent analysis of alternative agricultural research and investment scenarios, and will focus on a range of commodities, regions, and cross-cutting topics. It is hoped that the results will help inform decision making in the CGIAR and its partners. GFSF is funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other donors.


Exploring the impact of alternative investments on poverty, hunger, and the environment

By Tim Sulser —  

The Global Futures and Strategic Foresight program recently released results of a study using quantitative foresight modeling to explore the impacts of alternative investments in agricultural research, resource management, and infrastructure on the CGIAR’s System Level Outcomes relating to poverty (SLO1), food and nutrition security (SLO2), and natural resources and ecosystem services (SLO3). Impacts to 2050 were analyzed in the context of changes in population, income, technology, and climate. The report is intended to help decision makers and donors assess the potential impacts of alternative investment strategies for agricultural research and development over the long term, as a complement to ex post analyses and other sources of information. The analysis was led by IFPRI with contributions from colleagues in all 15 CGIAR Centers and other institutions, and with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The report can  be accessed online and downloaded in pdf form by visiting this page.

See Also: Related Blog Post on the PIM Website.


Conservation Agriculture discussed in Tunisia

The representatives of more than 10 public administrations and agencies representing a wide range of agricultural institutions, farmers and farmers associations attended a round table to discuss the milestones for further development of Conservation Agriculture in Tunisia, held in Tunis on 16 March 2017.

The workshop was organized by ICARDA, jointly with IRESA-Tunisia (Agricultural Research and Higher Education Institution) within the frame of the Global Futures and Strategic Foresight project of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institution and Markets. Conservation agriculture (CA) is a system-based practice combining no mechanical tillage, permanent soil surface cover, crop diversification and use of adequate crop sequences. Read More.

2017 Global Food Policy Report

We are pleased to announce that we are now going to be making a regular contribution to IFPRI’s annual flagship publication, the Global Food Policy Report, in the form of a statistical annex presenting up-to-date projections for key indicators of production, consumption, trade, and hunger from the IMPACT system of models.  Click here for more information on the 2017 Global Food Policy Report.

We are also making these annex tables available for download via our dedicated Dataverse portal.

Annex Table 6 is available in extended format.

Annex Table 7 is available in extended format.

Exploring impacts of climate and socioeconomic change in West Africa

By Daniel Mason-D'Croz and Shahnila Islam, IFPRI

Climate change will likely have a negative effect on the agriculture sector in West Africa due to changing precipitation patterns and increasing temperatures. These changes can have negative impacts on food security in the region and, ultimately, the consequences of these changes will depend in part on society’s capacity to adapt to an uncertain future. A new article in the peer-reviewed journal Global Environmental Change, “Linking regional stakeholder scenarios and shared socioeconomic pathways: Quantified West African food and climate futures in a global context”, explores this uncertainty through four regional socioeconomic scenarios developed in a series of regional stakeholder driven workshops.


Fig. Cartoon representation of West African Scenarios by André Daniel Tapsoba (Palazzo et al. 2016)

This study suggests that investments in agriculture, particularly in productivity enhancing technologies and practices, could not only improve access to food but also ease pressures on agricultural land expansion throughout the region.

This study is part of the Regional Scenarios Project, a large collaborative effort led by the CGIAR program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) that has developed regional scenarios in 6 macro regions around the world and has involved significant collaboration among colleagues in the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the University of Oxford Environmental Change Institute (ECI).

IFPRI’s participation in this project is also supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Read the press release at IIASA.

The journal article can be accessed here.

Related links:

IIASA Blog post by Amanda Palazzo describing the scenario process in West Africa.

GFSF Blog post by Daniel Mason-D’Croz summarizing outputs from the Regional Scenario Project.

CCAFS Regional Scenario Page.

Do markets and trade help or hurt the global food system adapt to climate change?

By Keith Wiebe, IFPRI

food-policy-coverRapidly expanding global trade in the past three decades has lifted millions of people out of poverty. But trade has also reduced manufacturing wages in high income countries and made entire industries uncompetitive in some communities, giving rise to nationalist politics that seek to stop or reverse further trade expansion in the United States and Europe. Given complex and uncertain political support for trade, how might changes in trade policy affect the global food system’s ability to adapt to climate change?

The authors for the new Food Policy paper "Do markets and trade help or hurt the global food system adapt to climate change?" argue that the best way to understand food security in a changing climate is by looking at it as a double exposure: the exposure of people and processes to both economic and climate-related shocks and stressors. Trade can help us adapt to climate change, or not. If trade restrictions proliferate, double exposure to both a rapidly changing climate and volatile markets will likely jeopardize the food security of millions. A changing climate will present both opportunities and challenges for the global food system, and adapting to its many impacts will affect food availability, food access, food utilization and food security stability for the poorest people across the world. Global trade can continue to play a central role in assuring that global food system adapts to a changing climate. This potential will only be realized, however, if trade is managed in ways that maximize the benefits of broadened access to new markets while minimizing the risks of increased exposure to international competition and market volatility. For regions like Africa, for example, enhanced transportation networks combined with greater national reserves of cash and enhanced social safety nets could reduce the impact of ‘double exposure’ on food security.




The paper can be accessed online and downloaded in pdf from this page.

This article was originally posted on PIM Webpage.