MANHATTAN, Kan. — Reducing hunger and poverty through agriculture requires a vast array of systems and approaches – and experts who review and share their work on the policies that govern them.
Kansas State University experts recently joined a collaborative effort to organize and share such policy analyses.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sustainable Intensification (SIIL), based at the university and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has joined with Rutgers University to strengthen the activities of its Feed the Future Policy Research Consortium.
The consortium, which was initially formed at Rutgers in 2014, brings together leading experts in agricultural development policy from multiple U.S.-based institutions and selected Feed the Future focus countries, to conduct a series of impact studies related to agricultural and food security policy and to be a forum for independent and innovative research on policy analysis.
The Policy Research Consortium will support USAID’s Global Food Security Strategy objectives through contributions to the improvement of policy approaches and outcomes.
Carl Pray, a Distinguished Professor in the Rutgers department of agricultural, food and resource economics, will serve as the principal investigator for the consortium.
“An essential element of agricultural and economic development is a set of policies and regulation that allow farmers to use their skills, education and improved technology to increase their income and family’s well-being,” Pray said. “One of the challenges addressed by our project is to identify effective policy changes and measure their consequences. By analyzing this data with our in-country partners and providing it to governments and donors in a timely manner, we hope to effect policy changes that improve the livelihoods of many people in the agricultural sector and consumers across the African continent.”
The consortium is a welcome addition to already broad and diverse SIIL program portfolio and it will help link together resources from a range of projects to help create sustainable strategies for future work.
Vara Prasad, Kansas State University Distinguished Professor and SIIL director, said, “It is clear from past experiences working on the ground in the consortium’s target countries that you may have the best technologies available to you, but without appropriate policies and effective implementation of those policies to create enabling environment, it is very hard to scale up the innovations to larger geographical areas.
“This can have a direct impact on food and nutritional security in those areas, and affects those most in need of assistance.”
Jan Middendorf, SIIL associate director, is excited to see how the consortium will tackle policy questions from an evaluation standpoint. “We need to engage thought leaders and stakeholders in facilitated participatory approaches in order to prioritize and evaluate key policy issues,” she said. “From there we can work to identify consensus-based priorities and opportunities to inform policy and investment strategies at the country level.”
The initial Policy Research Consortium member organizations include Georgetown University, the University of British Columbia, Tufts University, the University of Gaston-Berger, the University of Florida, the International Fertilizer Development Center, Northwestern University, Montana State University, Michigan State University, and the African Economic Research Consortium.
— Andra Williams, K-State Research and Extension
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